Mystery Bird: Barnacle Goose, Branta leucopsis

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[Mystery bird] Barnacle Goose, Branta leucopsis, photographed at Luonnontieteellinen keskusmuseo (University of Helsinki Museum of Natural History), Helsinki, Finland. [picture of the same species with its muscle and feathers]

Image: GrrlScientist, 18 May 2010 [larger view]

Canon SX100 IS.

Please name at least one field mark that supports your identification.

EEEK! It's another completely bare-nekkid bird for you to identify! Can you ID this bird species? (Yes, it's going to be very challenging to ID species, but you should be able to ID family easily).

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The sternum has a strong keel, and the coracoid and furcula are large, suggesting a bird that flies well. The legs are strong with large feet, with claws that extend straight out. Also, the fourth toe (in back) originates above the other three. These all point to a bird that spends most of it's time on land. The bill is deep based, not flattened, and blunt tipped. The overall look to the bird is very stocky (deep relative to length) with a long neck.

You're right, Grrl. Family is easy, subfamily seems fairly straightforward, but species is going to be pretty close to impossible, especially with no location information.

psweet has me beat, then, because I've got lots of ideas about what this isn't, but not many about what it is.

A quick clarification -- when I said that this bird spends most of it's time on land, I meant that it isn't arboreal -- land and water birds may both share that foot structure.

I am thinking goose or swan. I noticed the beak shape, and the arrangement of toes. Robust build, and very large wings.

My first impression based on the bill was a goose. My second impression was that the legs were rather long, but of course I don't recall ever having examined an articulated goose skeleton so what do I know. So I'm left with the impression of a goose that is a fairly good walker so I'll guess nene (Branta sandvicensis). Though a nene in a finnish museum seems rather unlikely.