Facts About Canadian Geese

Facts About Canadian Geese
Canada Geese are one of the most recognized species of geese in North America. There are 11 different recognized species of Canada Geese, although 4 of the 11 species have been reclassified as different species (American Ornithologists' Union). The different species of Canada Geese look similar, but vary in size. Canada Geese were once a rare bird and listed as an endangered species. Since the 1940s, their numbers have increased and the birds are now listed as "least concern" with the IUCN.

Identification

The Canada Goose (Branta canadensis) is a large waterfowl with a wingspan of up to 68 inches or more. Both males and females share the same color of markings. They have grayish-brown bodies, a black head, bill and neck, a white chinstrap and under tail and a whitish-brown chest. Small teeth on the outside of the bill are used as a cutting tool. The females are slightly smaller than the males. The exact lifespan of wild Canada Geese is not known. The oldest known wild Canada Goose reached 24 years of age.

Habitat

Canada Geese are found throughout North America along the coast, in the tundra and in urban areas. At one time or another, Canada Geese can be found in every state of America and every province of Canada. Some Canada Geese are migratory and go on a long annual migration. Others are residents and stay in the same area year round. Migratory Canada Geese have changed their migratory pattern in recent years, not traveling as far south during winter migration as they used to.

Behavior

Canada Geese are social birds, living in large flocks except when the birds are nesting. The birds communicate largely through body language, as well as vocalizations. Scientists have been able to recognize 10 distinct vocalizations of the large waterfowl.

Mating

Canada Geese are monogamous, meaning they stay with one mating partner. The monogamous birds stay together for over a year, usually staying together for a lifetime. In the winter, males fight with each other, using their toothed bills as weapons, to gain access to the females. Pairs form during the winter in anticipation for breeding season in the spring. In spring, the birds mate and find a nesting area. Mating usually takes place in the water (Ehrlich, P., D. Dobkin, D. Wheye. 1988. The Birder's Handbook: A Field Guide to the Natural History of North American Birds. New York: Simon and Schuster). During the process of mating, the male mounts himself on top of the female, submerging the female either partially or fully in the water. The female lays up to nine eggs in the nest. The eggs hatch in 23 to 30 days. The birds return to the same nesting location each mating season.

Article Written By Rose Kivi

Rose Kivi has been a writer for more than 10 years. She has a background in the nursing field, wildlife rehabilitation and habitat conservation. Kivi has authored educational textbooks, patient health care pamphlets, animal husbandry guides, outdoor survival manuals and was a contributing writer for two books in the Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader Series.

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