BRANT - Fall/Winter Rarity Finding in Chicago : Journal #1

To kick off my journal of finding rarities in the months of September-December in Chicago, I thought I'd start off going taxonomically. The first rarity is Brant.

The Brant (Branta bernicla), is a coastal and high arctic bird with a tendency to wander inland. There are 4 different typed to be found, the, 'Black', 'Black-bellied', 'Gray-bellied' and 'Atlantic' subspecies. Going in the order I put them, the plumages get gradually lighter. Throughout its range, you can find large flocks, mixed with other species of geese and ducks, or flocks of only Brant.
The 'Black' Brant tends to be overall sooty black with the classic brant white "necklace", white feathers on the mid-flanks, snowy-white vent/undertail-coverts and rump.
This subspecies is the Eurasian subspecies, so anyone would be hard-pressed finding on in the US, much less Chicago. The 'Black-bellied' Brant tends to be a sootier gray overall with a contrasting breast and belly. The breast, head and neck will be solid black minus the white "necklace", and the belly will be gray that goes up and over the wings and mantle with limited white on the mid-flanks.
The 'Gray-bellied' Brant tends to be more pale than the 'Black-bellied' with more extensive white on the flanks, and a paler gray on the belly and back. The white "necklace" tends to be less pronounced on this subspecies.
The 'Atlantic' (or 'Pale-bellied') Brant is the palest of them all. They nearly have a completely white belly and flanks, but they usually have some light gray barring. The black head, neck and breast is more contrasting with the belly on this subspecies. They are also the the most vagrant subspecies out of the 4.
All subspecies will have black corners to the tail, which is most visible in flight. They also all have a very acute black triangle extending down the middle of the rump and upper-tail coverts.
Brant average to be much smaller than your everyday Canada Goose. Brant average smaller than the much more common Cackling Goose, but variability in size is always prevalent in birds.
Both sexes are alike plumage-wise.

BEST MONTH TO FIND ONE November-December
WHERE TO FIND ONE: Lakefront grassy lawns/parks with flocks of Canada Geese. Inland grassy parks with flocks of Canada Geese is a good place to look too.
IDEAL CONDITIONS TO FIND ONE: Strong easterly winds, typically from somewhere on the east coast, but even northeasterly winds from Lake Ontario at this time can potentially produce them.
eBird link for photos:

I hope that this can be of some assistance, and I'll be posting one a day until I run out of birds to write about!

Posted on Δεκέμβριος 23, 2020 0915 ΜΜ by brdnrdr brdnrdr


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