You might one day see a flock of Canada geese, with one goose that looks… well, off. If you see these types of patterns and markings, it’s very likely that you’re looking at an unusual bird whose parents were star-crossed lovers!
Canada geese and domestic geese don’t normally mate with each other. They instinctively tend to stick to their own kind. But occasionally, a Canada goose and a domestic goose will mate and have healthy young. In one case in upstate New York, a domestic goose pair was seen raising hybrid goslings in a park, and the father evidently didn’t notice or care that his mate must have had a little adventure with a Canada goose!
Hybrid geese may ultimately settle into a flock of Canada geese or a flock of domestic geese, depending on which instincts take over and which parent is the target of its early imprinting.
Have you seen a hybrid goose in the wild?