Careful what you call a cackler. The West coast boys get pretty upset when anything east of the Rockies thats a small goose is called a cackler. Honestly, we dont have any true cacklers. Hutchies, richardsons, ect but no true cacklers. As for the MVP population I dont know, I am a dump husker but I will say that the last few years with warm weather we are holding a ton of little birds compared to honkers.
Jon — you are correct prior to the 2004 changes in nomenclature. Hutchinsii [Richardson's] where part of the overall change in classifications by the American Ornithologist’s Union Committee when they split Canada geese into two species: Canada Goose (b. canadensis) and Cackling Goose (branta hutchinsii).
So we can safely abuse the term now:)
We see the little geese start to arrive here in northern Illinois in early October — a bit after the larger geese that can begin arriving at the tail end of the early goose season that ends Sept 15th. We’ve shot banded migrants in the waning days of our nuisance season.
While some “cacklers” stay all season the bulk of them don’t stay very long. I wonder if they shift east or west vs heading much further south.
Even when we freeze here and I think we have enough snow to move birds I still see them flying all over. I went out last weekend to try to get some late winter pictures and drove all over to find them. All the roost areas were frozen and couldn’t find the fields they were feeding in — yet at sunset the skies filled birds again.
I have no idea where they were finding open water or how far they were moving to and from it each day.