The Canada Goose (Branta canadensis) is a wild goose with a black head and neck, white patches on the face, and a brownish-gray body. Native to arctic and temperate regions of North America, it is occasionally found in northern Europe, and has been introduced to other temperate regions.
Recently, some communities have had to begin considering some Canada Geese as nuisances (for eating grass or fouling lawns) or even hazards (around airports, where collisions with planes can be very dangerous). Some 2.6 million Canada Geese are harvested by hunters in North America, but this does not seem to affect its numbers.
Canada geese mate for life, and both parents help raise the young. The mating season runs from March to April, after which eggs are laid. Hatching begins 25 to 30 days later. Baby geese (goslings), which are covered in yellowish down, leave the nest shortly after hatching.
Generally speaking, Canada geese do not breed until they are two or three years of age. Breeding takes place earlier in the year than it does for most birds so that their young hatch right when the plant food they need is in its prime. When it comes time to choose a nesting site to lay the eggs, the female always returns to the same area where her parents nested. While there are exceptions, females will usually return to the same nesting area every year.
Geese are often seen in a V-shaped formation when flying. Such a formation allows each trailing bird to receive lift from the wingtip vortex of the bird in front of it, saving energy and greatly extending the range of a flock of birds over that of a bird flying alone. Scientists have suggested that flying in V-formation may also be a way of maintaining visual contact and avoiding collisions.
The typical goose ahonk, ahonk, ahonk call is given during aggressive encounters, as a greeting, and when calling a mate. The call of the male is thought to be lower than that of the female, and when a pair flies overhead, you may be able to distinguish the two sounds. A hiss-call is given when geese are defending their territories, their nests, or their young, and is usually given only at close distances.
In spring and summer, geese concentrate their feeding on grasses and sedges, including skunk cabbage leaves and eelgrass. During fall and winter, they rely more on berries and seeds, including agricultural grains, and seem especially fond of blueberries
The average life span of a Canada goose is 10-25 years. There are reports of geese living to be 30 plus years of age in the wild and an isolated case of a Canada goose living over age 40 in captivity.
All Canada geese have similar physical traits despite size variation. Adult Canada geese have grayish brown wings, backs, sides and breasts; black tails, feet, legs, bills, and heads; and long black necks with distinctive white cheek patches that usually cover part of the throat. Males tend to be bigger than females though the two sexes’ physical traits are identical.
Canada Geese breed in northern temperate, sub-arctic and arctic regions and nest in Canada, Alaska, and all of the lower 48 states. They are found at a broad range of elevations, from coastal through alpine, and occupy a broad range of habitats, as long as there is water nearby. They are found in ponds, lakes, reservoirs, bays, estuaries, marshes, pastures and fields, city and suburban parks, golf courses, and grassy waterfront yards. Canada Geese prefer riverine areas for breeding, but will nest in a wide variety of wetland habitats.
Canada geese (<i>Branta Canadensis</i>) include a range of sub-species native to North America, all of whom suffered near extinction in the early 20th century. Hunting and habitat loss were the main causes of their decline and eventually led to the enactment of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) of 1918. The MBTA substantially regulated hunting of Canada geese and sought to preserve critical habitat.