LHI: Taxonomy and feral geese

To: "Alastair & Clare Smith" <>, "BIRDING-AUS" <>
Subject: LHI: Taxonomy and feral geese
From: "Mike Carter" <>
Date: Fri, 7 May 2004 12:35:32 -0000
    Anser anser anser is the latin name for the Western Greylag Goose
regarded as one the ancestors of domestic geese. The other is the Swan Goose
Anser cygnoides, known as Chinese Goose in it's domestic form (Peter Scott's
'Key to the Wildfowl of the World'. So a feral goose could be one or the
other or a hybrid.
    As stated in a recent missive, for deliberately or accidentally (i.e.
escaped) introduced species to count, they must have been self sustaining in
the wild for at least ten years. This can be difficult to establish. The
other problem is the identity. There may be a case for some feral
populations to be counted. Those on LHI may be derivatives of  Anser anser
but are they self sustaining? Some on Phillip Island, Victoria, resemble
Greylags and some claim they meet the above criteria. I think there could be
others elsewhere. So maybe the time has come to include some populations as
'Australian birds'.
    They seem to count in New Zealand where they are well established and
there are so few species that the Kiwis are desperate to count anything! But
the illustration by Derek Onley of a Feral Goose labelled Anser anser in
'The Field Guide to the Birds of New Zealand' by Barrie Heather & Hugh
Robertson is a mainly white bird which bears no resemblance to a Greylag
Goose. So why Anser anser?
    I think there are other feral populations more worthy of inclusion. High
on my list is the Helmeted Guineafowl.

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