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Old April 20th, 2007, 03:04 AM   #1
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Is This a Swoose?

This bird looks to me like a swan/goose hybrid. It seems too elegant and graceful to be all-goose and its neck is very long and slender. It has long, tapered wings and flies with a flock of Canada Geese that frequent a park. It's fast and easy on the wing and I imagine it could outdistance the geese. I never seem to have a camcorder with me when it flies, but I'll get some good footage of it sooner or later. It's such a beauty when flying, this would be nice video.

I can see no evidence of Canada Goose ancestry in it and one of its parents was probably a domestic goose that was at least partly white. Swan/goose hybrids are sterile, so there couldn't be any 2nd-generation crosses, to complicate the characteristics. The orange legs don't fit in with there being a black-legged Tundra or Trumpeter Swan parent, but some Mute Swans have yellow/orange legs. A captive Mute Swan would be much more likely to have mated with a domestic goose in this region, than a wild Tundra or Trumpeter Swan. Its voice sounds about halfway between a goose and a swan.

If anyone here has seen one of the very rare swan/goose hybrids, let me know what you think about this one. There's more photos of it starting on about page 7 of my Flickr album.
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Old April 21st, 2007, 12:21 AM   #2
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stephen,

I live in one of the best waterfowl spots on this contenent. I spend hundreds of hours out every season. can't say I have ever, ever seen anything like it. I will forward the picture to a fish and game biologist in Idaho who has studied this stuff extensively and see what he says!!

I would wager it is a hybrid. I have seen hybird falcons (in the wild) and it is interesting how they take on traits of both.
If you notice it has a distinct line where the pure (often referred to as magpie white genetically) white extends up the neck. Canada geese have this kind of whit ein their make up, so it would not be surprising to see that occur in a hybrid between the two.
I have a friend, retired D.U. biologist and I will email it to him tonight!!

I think you nailed it!! first swoose I ever say.

I have seen hybrid white tailed/ mule deer, I killed a mallard that turned into a pintail mallard hybrid, and a friend of mine shot a sharp tailed grouse that turned out to be a sharp tail. prairie hybrid. so, they are not all that uncommon in nature.
If youa think about it hybrid ization is actually essential for diversification in various genepools and is a natural function in nature to allow for grater adaption to changing environments. It is feasable with the rapid change in environments over that last 100 years that more hybridization is more likly to occur as in the case of the grouse hybrid I mentioned. the prairie chicken is a long grass prairie bird and a sharp tail(far more versatile in nature) a short grass prairie bird. as the tall grass vanished out of the canadian prairies the chicken reduced in numbers until it was forced to dance on sharp tail leks for survival.. In this province of Saskatchewan only tweo leks had Prairie chickens on them and they were both dancing with sharp tailed grouse. Oh yea, there also was a Sage grouse sharptail hybrid in this province. The sage grouse are in trouble here which supports the prior contention.

all very intersting. I will get back with some insights from my bio friends.
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Old April 21st, 2007, 06:01 PM   #3
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Steve
It looks as if there's a touch of greylag or bean goose in the plumage and the legs. I know of no european swans with black beaks but the neckline is surely that of a swan, as you say. Your approach to diversity is refreshing.

Hybridization has been working wonders in the plant world for millions of years before plant specialists decided that the colour of roses was more important than their scent. Perhaps it's time to revisit Charles Darwin on diversity and recognise a few closer connections ... reminds me that our President said in a Muslim school here recently that Islam needed to be explained in the modern world because the Irish had "cause to know how ignorance festers". I like that. There's no messing about with that sort of truth ... denial and spin are still the godparents of modern ignorance ... but what's that got to do with a swoose ... well there are those who would deny that your swoose exists ... let them roll up, roll up
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Old April 21st, 2007, 10:18 PM   #4
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Another View with a Hybrid Friend

Dale and Brendan, I appreciate your interest and remarks about this bird. Here is another look at it, with a pal that accompanies it often. This other hybird is a cross with a Canada Goose and some domestic Greylag variety. On both, you can see the vertical furrows in the neck feathers that are common to the wild species in the Anser Genus. This Genus includes Snow and White-fronted Geese from North America, as well as Swangeese (a species of goose, not a hybrid) and others from Eurasia. The Canada and Cackling Geese, as well as the Barnacle and Red-breasted Geese, the Common Brant and the Nene, or Hawaiian Goose, are of the Branta Genus.

I was previously of the opinion that the typical dominance of dark-pigmented features in 1st-generation hybrids, would preclude a Tundra or Trumpeter Swan as an ancestor of the "Swoose". That led me to suspect that a yellow-legged Mute Swan might have been one parent. However, since the Canada Goose 1st-generation hybrid shown here has both yellow/orange legs and bill, this seems not to be an absolute rule with geese. Also, there's no sign of the dark knob that Mute Swans have on their upper bill.

These two are both large birds and most of the Canada Geese they accompany are smaller. When they're flying, this size difference is even more apparent. The "Swoose" is about the size of the Giant Canada Geese that live in the upper Midwest of the U.S. and Canada. The neck of the "Swoose" is longer than the other hybrid and it has a few dark feathers as well as some light grey ones. Its goose ancestor could have been of mixed domestic varieties and probably was mostly white, with a few darker feathers. The hybrids of swans and geese are believed to all be sterile. Hybrids from Canada and Greylag Geese or Branta/Anser hybrids involving other species, are also regarded as being sterile. However, hybrids between many species or domestic varieties, which are all of the Anser Genus, would probably be fertile.

When I was in college, my Embryology professor, Paul Risley, explained some of the issues regarding hybrid birds to me, as he had some experience in analyzing their genetic characteristics. Some different species that have common ancestors, may be able to hybridize and produce fertile offspring. But, if they have been separated for a long time, the systematic drift of their genes may make them too different in those segments that produce their reproductive functions and their offspring will be sterile. This is what happens when horses and donkeys breed and produce mules. This varies with different species within a Genus. Mallard/Pintail hybrids are apparently sterile, but Cinnamon/Blue-winged Teal hybrids may be fertile. Different courtship rituals and seasonal timing of nesting cycles may be all that keep some of these closely-related duck species from frequently crossing. The only thing that keeps the Canada and Cackling Geese species and subspecies from crossing, is the geographic separation of their nesting grounds. As some of them are becoming less migratory and are nesting in common, southern areas, cross-breeding among their subspecies may increase.

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service reports that more hybrids or intergrade birds from Dusky and Lesser Canada Geese are appearing in Cook Inlet, near Anchorage. The nesting grounds of the Dusky Canada Geese was significantly disrupted by the major earthquake in 1964 and this is one cause for some of them moving out of that area and encountering other subspecies during the Spring. In fact, it appears to me that this group of geese is in constant flux, especially since all the northern-nesting birds are thrown into a mixing-bowl, with every ice age. Whenever that happens, only those species or subspecies of geese that are reproductively incompatible, for either genetic or behavioral reasons, are able to keep their integrity.
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Old April 22nd, 2007, 01:20 AM   #5
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Stephan,

I have spent most of my adult life studying genetics in relation to color and performance charactereistics in several breeds. I am also very well educated in the study of raptor behavior and various dynamics (45 years of study) about many species.
first, when you have species that are long decendents from one another you will get virtually 100% fertility: example would be northern gyrfalcons, altai saker falcons and southern saker falcons. all three species (arguable point genetically) have quite a few similar traits but enough difference to make them easily differentially segregated. all can be interbred successfully.
Now, an example of interest is the crossing of gyr falcons and peregrine falcons. The males of this cross are fertile and the females are not (90% or more, I personally know of no females that were productive to any extent. Their eggs may be fertile but they don't hatch and if they do they die in the first 3 days). Crossing could involve lethal genes, another interesting factor in survival of species.

I have a picture of myself with five wild bred baby hybrid falcons, prairie falcon/peregrine crosses. Parents anatum peregrine male and female prairie. I was asked by our game department to take them out and replace the youngsters with prairie falcon babies. Our game departement at that time was not prepared to see the advantages of hybridization of the local prairie falcon population, perhaps 50 to 100 pairs.

this poses some very interesting genetic questions. what I have gleaned is that there are no hard and fast rules.

Were you aware that there are cases of unferilized hen turkeys that actually produce offspring? This kind of thing just reminds me that nature and the world we live does not follow our simple human rules we want to apply to everything. I also know of one case where a mule was viablle as a producer. Of course the scientists who want to categorize and disect things so they can make rules and theories do not have answers for this these irregularities. Any one who spends their life outdoors knows the answer to these, it really is very simple
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Old April 22nd, 2007, 03:18 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by Dale Guthormsen View Post
Crossing could involve lethal genes, another interesting factor in survival of species.--------Were you aware that there are cases of unfertilized hen turkeys that actually produce offspring?
The experiences you described with raptors were very interesting and thought-provoking. There's a lot of unexplored territory in the field of hybrid genetics and new discoveries are made every now and then. Regarding lethal genes, two well-known and closely-related species, the Wood Duck and Mandarin Duck, can't hybridize at all, because a lethal gene combination kills the cross-species embryos at the 5th cell division. Whether this is just an accidental by-product of their differentiation from each other or was a key factor in being able to become separate species, hasn't been determined, as far as I know.

The unfertilized turkeys producing viable eggs might be due to the same capability that saved a species of duck from extinction. At one time, in the 1950s, there was only one Laysan Duck (from the island of the same name) left in the world. It was a female that had lost her mate to a typhoon and had her nest of eggs destroyed by predatory rats. Biologists had built a protective cage for her, hoping that another male might be found. In the meantime, she laid a new clutch of eggs and started to incubate them. It had been a couple of months since she had been with a male, so they assumed the eggs were infertile, but let her continue to incubate. To their surprise, the eggs hatched and the ducklings became the ancestors of the several thousand Laysan Ducks that are alive today. Due to this experience, research was done on the reproductive functions of waterfowl. It was discovered that a female can produce enzymes that deactivate some of the sperm in her body from a mating and store them for future use. If there is no male present at a later time in the nesting season, she can reactivate the sperm, so they can fertilize the eggs in a 2nd clutch.

This might also occur in other types of birds, such as turkeys. It might not be parthenogenesis, that allowed those turkeys to lay fertile eggs. It could depend on whether they had ever been with male turkeys, prior to being isolated from them. If this ability of females to internally maintain a standby sperm-bank took place with Humans, there would be some interesting, but possibly troublesome complications.
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Old April 22nd, 2007, 07:21 AM   #7
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... the ancestors of the several thousand Laysan Ducks ... alive today ... Due to ... a female can produce enzymes that deactivate some of the sperm in her body from a mating and store them for future use. If there is no male present at a later time in the nesting season, she can reactivate the sperm, so they can fertilize the eggs in a 2nd clutch.

This might also occur in other types of birds, such as turkeys. It might not be parthenogenesis, that allowed those turkeys to lay fertile eggs. It could depend on whether they had ever been with male turkeys, prior to being isolated from them. If this ability of females to internally maintain a standby sperm-bank took place with Humans, there would be some interesting, but possibly troublesome complications.
This is gobsmacking stuff; I'm in real danger of learning something if you go on like this, Steve and Dale. The Laysan Duck story is a revelation.

My only contact with parthenogenesis was while controlling my vine weevil population 300 nights p.a. over the past 20 years. Only twice did I find a pair sexually engaged. But 800 young each p.a. was common, and all strictly vegetarian throughout their life cycle, oh my God, oh my alpines.
It was slim consolation to muse about the virgins after which the Parthenon in Athens was named around 2300 years ago, and now I hear that the Etruscans preceeded the Athenians in some creative respects and sure didn't the Minoans get off to a brilliant early start too until Santorini blew them up and washed them away ...

I'd love to see your swoose flying sometime Steve and shots of falcons or any other raptors would be welcome Dale.
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Old April 22nd, 2007, 08:23 AM   #8
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Certainly a Great Recovery Story

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Originally Posted by Brendan Marnell View Post
This is gobsmacking stuff; The Laysan Duck story is a revelation.
Brendan, the Great Peter Scott, Englishman, artist, lighthouse dweller and key figure in the World Wildfowl Trust (or some such appelation), was a prime figure in setting up the restoration programs for many endangered waterfowl in those times. They brought some of the surviving Laysan Ducks to England, where they raised thousands in captivity and provided the main stock for re-establishing them on their only home, Laysan Island, in the Hawaiian Archipelago. There are a couple thousand of them there today, happily running and flying around the salt flats, catching flies, which is their main and sometimes only food. I know of no other instance, where a species came this close to extinction, but successfully bounced back. We put them in peril, by inadvertently importing rats, which decimated them and many other nesting seabirds. A successful program exterminated the rats from the island and it's now a habititable place for them once again. There are still many Laysan Ducks in captivity in England and I'd bet you could find some in zoo collections in Ireland. I'd love to go to Laysan Island and take some video of them, but no people are allowed, except for Biologists and a few privileged documentary makers.
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Old April 22nd, 2007, 09:08 AM   #9
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fascinating stuff. do we need a UWOL-specific area 51??

the planet continually amazes.
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Old April 23rd, 2007, 12:30 AM   #10
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Stephan,

In the case of the turkeys it was not sperm bank related, this is related in a livestock genetics text I sent to a friend in Berthoud colorado. I reckon it was imaculate conception of a turkey. why should that be a surprise to the universe.
When Mount Saint helens blew its top scientists found out that what appeared to be millions of yeras of strata could be created in a day or two!!
Nothing surpises me these days, even the closing of the hole in our ozone layer.
So is it the holes in our atmospheric layers that and when they happen to line up over the bermuda area it creates the vacuum that the last audio recording of a pilot portrayed when he siad,"oh my god, the ocean is opening up." Something like a vacuum sucking them out of our atnosphere.

Yes brenden, I do digress, this is definitely area 51 stuf, eh???

I promise to try to stay more on dv topic in the future!!!

I will be emailing you some falcon footage.

I will be building a web site to put down loads on as well.
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Old April 23rd, 2007, 02:34 AM   #11
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fascinating stuff. do we need a UWOL-specific area 51??

the planet continually amazes.
I think we have a very strong knowledge team in our community. This is very interesting to read about. Mother nature has always facinated me.
As long as we don't brake the community rules about politics, race etc, I think OT-threads like this should be allowed, but stay on the road guys!
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