The Canada Goose - Facts and Information

Canda Geese in Flight

Canada Geese Flying in V Formation
Canada Geese Flying in V Formation | Source

The Canada Goose

Have you ever been outside and heard the sound of wild geese flying overhead? What a wonderful sound that is. Their “honking” makes my head snap back immediately as my eyes scan the skies for these beautiful birds. Then I see them, flying in formation like a huge “v”, for victory, in the sky. It’s a beautiful sight and sound!

Population

Once threatened with dwindling populations, due to over hunting and the loss of their habitat, the Canadian Goose, (Branta canadensis), is now one of the most common birds in North America. In the 1950s it was believed that the Giant Canadian Goose, a larger subspecies, had become extinct until a small flock was found in 1962, in Minnesota. Now with better game laws and presevation improvements the numbers are climbing again. With the declining numbers of natural predators and year around food sources in milder climates, some of these naturally migratory birds have decided to take up residence in warmer areas year around.

Canda Goose Markings

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Facial Markings of the Canada GooseCanada Goose Side ViewCanada Goose Fron View
Facial Markings of the Canada Goose
Facial Markings of the Canada Goose | Source
Canada Goose Side View
Canada Goose Side View | Source
Canada Goose Fron View
Canada Goose Fron View | Source

Description

There are at least eleven subspecies of the Canada Goose. Typically, the species get smaller and you move northward and darker as you move westward. The four smallest forms are now considered to be a separate species called the Cackling Goose. They are all distinguished by a black head and neck with white cheeks and chin strap. They have a long black neck, tan breast and brown back. The largest of the Canada geese is the Greater Canada Goose, which is also the most common. The Canada goose can weigh between 7 and 14 pounds with a wingspan of 50 to 71 inches. The male and female look extremely similar and the only way to visually tell them apart is that the female is slightly smaller.

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Canada Geese have taken up permanent residence at our nearby lake.
Canada Geese have taken up permanent residence at our nearby lake.
Canada Geese have taken up permanent residence at our nearby lake. | Source
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Habitat

The Canadian Goose is native to North Amnerica and breeds in Canada and the northern parts of North America. They have been found in every contigous US state and Canadian Province at one time or another. They nest in areas near water sources such as lakes, streams and rivers. They normally elevate their nest in order to keep an eye out for predators. You can sometimes find a nest on top of a beaver lodge. Canada Geese are particularly fond of lawns. The can easily digest the grass and manicured lawns give them an unobstructed view of any approaching predators. They seem to be becoming very fond of golf courses, parks and some airports where they are not only becoming pests but cal also be very dangerous.

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This one is really watching me!
This one is really watching me!
This one is really watching me! | Source
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In recent years the Canada Goose population has grown to the point that they are considered a pest due to their droppings, noise and sometimes aggressive behavior. I have a friend in Colorado, who lived in an apartment complex for a little while. One day and as she came out her door, on her way to work, and was met by a very defensive mother goose! Apparently, this mother goose had laid her eggs in raised flower bed just across from her apartment door. The new mother goose wouldn’t let my friend come out her front door. She had to call the maintance man to help fend off mother goose with a broom, so she could get to her car. This went on for days, until mother goose decided she wasn’t going to be a threat and began to let her pass with just a warning “hiss”. An angry mother or father goose, protecting their young can be quite frightening.

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Canada Geese munching on grass.
Canada Geese munching on grass.
Canada Geese munching on grass. | Source
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Diet

The Canada Goose is herbivorous and feeds mainly on grass, aquatic plants, sedges skunk cabbage leaves and eel grass in the spring and summer. They will also east small fish and insects. In the fall and winter, they tend to feed on mostly seeds and berries. They are known to be especially fond of bluberries. They are known for their skill at removing the kernals from old, dried corn cobs. In many areas around public lakes and parks, you will find they have become some what tame and will take “treats” such as piece of bread from people who choose to feed them. Please be sure to remember that they are still wild animals are can be very unpredictable.

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Migration

Canada Geese are known for the seasonal migrations. During their fall migration, which is usually from September to November, they are returning to warmer climates in the southern areas of the United States such as Florida and Texas. Their spring migration will take them back to the northern areas and into Canada. The Canada Goose is well known for their v-shaped flying formation. This formation is rotated between certain geese as it takes more energy to be the leader. The others follow in the v-formation, conserving energy. They can fly up to 1,500 miles in one day, but usually fly at a more leisurely speed. Their “cruising” speed is about 30 to 40 mile an hour, but if in a hurry, they can fly up to 60 miles per hour. The Canada Goose will normally return to where it was born to nest. They often will choose the same nest they left the year before, if available.

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Canada Goose NestAdult Canada Geese Swimming with GoslingsFamily of Geese Swimming
Canada Goose Nest
Canada Goose Nest | Source
Adult Canada Geese Swimming with Goslings
Adult Canada Geese Swimming with Goslings | Source
Family of Geese Swimming
Family of Geese Swimming | Source

Mating and Nesting

When the Canada Goose becomes two years old, they will begin looking for a mate. They are monogamous and will normally stay together for life. If one of the mates dies, the other will choose a second mate. The female will lay between 3-8 eggs and both the male and the female will protect the nest. However, the female does spend more time on the nest as the male stays nearby for protection. The nest is made up of grasses and down feathers. The female will pluck the small down feathers from her breast and lay them around the inside of the nest. The eggs normally hatch after 24-28 days. During the incubation period, the adult geese will molt, or lose their flight feathers in order to get new ones. During this period they cannot fly. They will get their new flight feathers well before fall migration and this is when they teach their young ones to fly.

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Goslings

The goslings are light yellow in color with greenish gray heads until they obtain their adult plumage at about 3 to 4 months old. You will see the geese moving around as they are feeding with one of the parent geese leading the goslings in a line. Normally one adult in the front and another in the rear. This is to protect their goslings from predators. The young will stay with the parents for up to a year.

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Predators

Once the Canada Goose reaches adulthood, they are usually not preyed upon, except by humans. Normal predators of the goslings are coyotes, foxes, eagles, owls and hawks. Raccoons and bears will often prey on the eggs. Both the male and the female will protect their young at all costs. Spreading their wings, honking and hissing at anything that comes to close. They will attack and bite at the predator until the chase it away or die trying. Their average life span is 24 years, however, there is a report of a Canada Goose which lived to be a little over 40 years old in captivity.

Other Interesting Facts

The Canada Goose has at least 10 distincitve calls and the female has a lower voice. They also have excellent eyesight and can see 180 degress both horizontally and vertically, which is very helpful in flight. It has been said that after a late spring snowstorm in an Alaskan breeding ground, once the snow melted away, there were geese found, frozen to death, still sitting on their nests, trying to protect their eggs from the cold.

Do You Have Canada Geese Visit Your "Neck of the Woods"?

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© 2013 Sheila Brown

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Comments 51 comments

Kristen Howe profile image

Kristen Howe 17 months ago from Northeast Ohio

My pleasure Sheila. When I used to live in New Jersey, I saw Canadian geese by a local lake with some ducks and swan. You too!


sgbrown profile image

sgbrown 17 months ago from Southern Oklahoma Author

Thank you, Kristen! I'm so glad you enjoyed my hub and I appreciate your kind comment and vote! Have a wonderful day!


Kristen Howe profile image

Kristen Howe 18 months ago from Northeast Ohio

Sheila, this was an interesting hub on Canadian geese and a beautiful one too with those photos. Voted up!


sgbrown profile image

sgbrown 21 months ago from Southern Oklahoma Author

I'm glad you get to enjoy watching the Canada geese too, Susie. Thanks for stopping by and have a great day!


sgbrown profile image

sgbrown 21 months ago from Southern Oklahoma Author

Thank you! I'm glad I could bring back such a pleasant memory for you! I enjoyed you sharing that memory with me and I'm sure your grands remember it well! Thanks for stopping by and have a wonderful day!


colorfulone profile image

colorfulone 21 months ago from Minnesota

Yes, we do have Canadian Geese here in northern Minnesota up by the Canadian border. Lots of them, and I love watching them, Sheila.


RTalloni profile image

RTalloni 21 months ago from the short journey

I was interrupted in reading this before and now am through the interesting facts. Such amazing creatures! I have a special memory from last spring because I took a little country hike with four of my 3-6 yo grands up in the top of Washington state. They we lined up, youngest closest to me and oldest holding rank at the back. We had to stop for the youngest to rest a minute when geese flew over, low and headed to a nearby lake. I was occupied and wouldn't have noticed except one honked above my head. I looked up amid the busy bedlam of the moment and shouted, "Hellooooo goose!" The little grands thought that was so funny that they almost fell to the ground laughing. I now smile out loud when I see geese. Thanks for the details and the reminder of this memory. :) And now I know that they could see us very well!


sgbrown profile image

sgbrown 23 months ago from Southern Oklahoma Author

Sorry for the late reply, Perspyccious! I have heard that before too, but from what I can tell, it is just old folklore. Thank you for stopping by! :)


Perspycacious profile image

Perspycacious 24 months ago from Today's America and The World Beyond

I have heard it said that on occasion hummingbirds fly south on the backs of Canada geese! Any truth to that?

Fine Hub here.


sgbrown profile image

sgbrown 2 years ago from Southern Oklahoma Author

Don't worry Shyron, I appreciate your effort and your comment here! Have a great day!


Shyron E Shenko profile image

Shyron E Shenko 2 years ago

Sheila, I love this, I love pictures of geese. I love the picture where it looks like a head scarf slid down under the beak.

Voted up, UABI and will share.

Earlier today, I was answering a comment to you and my computer hiccupped and I had to reboot, when I did you comment was gone.

I am so sorry. I don't remember the article it was on.


sgbrown profile image

sgbrown 3 years ago from Southern Oklahoma Author

Thank you Alicia! Canada geese are very common here as well as we have several lakes nearby. I always love listening to them fly overhead. When we go camping at the lake, one of my favorite things is watching and taking pictures of the geese. I'm so glad you enjoyed my article, thank you for your kind comment. Have a wonderful day! :)


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 3 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

Thank you very much for this detailed hub about the Canada Goose, Sheila. I love your photos, too. Canada geese are very common where I live. It was great to learn more about them by reading your article!


sgbrown profile image

sgbrown 3 years ago from Southern Oklahoma Author

Hi Suzette! I'm so glad you enjoyed my hub. I thought you might since I saw all the pictures your took of the geese at the pond in your photo essay hub. I mostly see the geese at the lake that is nearby, but from time to time will have a couple at our pond. I love to watch them, but especially love to listen to them as they fly overhead! Thank you for your very kind comment, you made my morning! Have a wonderful day! :)


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 3 years ago from Taos, NM

I so enjoyed this hub. Ohio is one of the places Canadian geese like to land and stay and stay. Ours here in Ohio are rather tame and bold sometimes. We are constantly stopping the car and waiting for a line of them to walk across the road. Some people have been known to actually get out of their cars and direct traffic around the geese. They are not too noisy here or in the sky over Ohio. I don't know why that is other than we Ohio humans and the geese get along with one another quite well. Thanks so much for your interesting and informative article! Your photos of them are wonderful also.


sgbrown profile image

sgbrown 3 years ago from Southern Oklahoma Author

Hi Patricia! I just love to see and hear the geese flying over, it's just such a wonderful sound! I'm glad you enjoyed my hub. I loved you story about having the geese when you were a child, I can just see a picture of it now! LOL

Thank you for wonderful comment, votes and of course, the Angels! Have a wonderful evening! :)


pstraubie48 profile image

pstraubie48 3 years ago from sunny Florida

Love them....it is an awesome sight and sound as they make their way to wherever. How can you not be enchanted by them?

I learned so much here, Sheila.

We had geese when I was a young girl and truthfully I do not know what kind they were. I do remember they would chase us and peck our behinds if we strayed into their zone!!!

Great job. Voted up up and away :) ps

Sending Angels your way this evening.


sgbrown profile image

sgbrown 3 years ago from Southern Oklahoma Author

Hello futonfraggle! I used to think the same thing. I guess when it is said they mate for life, it is for the life of either one. I am glad they find another mate if their first mate dies. Being sad for a single goose, means you are a compassionate person. That always a good thing! I'm glad you enjoyed my hub. Thank you for stopping by and commenting, it is always appreciated. Have a wonderful day! :)


futonfraggle profile image

futonfraggle 3 years ago

I didn't know they selected another mate after the first mate dies. I always heard they mate for life. When I'd see one lonely Canada goose, I'd always get upset lol... Great hub :)


sgbrown profile image

sgbrown 3 years ago from Southern Oklahoma Author

Hi Peggy! Every now and then, we will get a couple of geese on one of our ponds. Our ponds are pretty well hidden by trees, so they don't stop by here often. Lake Murray has lots of Canada Geese that live there on a permanent basis. I love to watch them fly over and listen to them honking! Yes, they can be aggressive! Thanks for stopping in and all your votes and share! You know it is always appreciated! Have a great day! :)


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 3 years ago from Houston, Texas

They quite often fly overhead during their migrations and land in some rice fields west of Houston. They can be aggressive! I well remember retreating to the car when a couple of geese came swimming out of DeGray Lake in Oklahoma and seemed a bit too threatening for me to stand my ground. I got some pictures prior to my retreat. Ha! I had no idea that there were so many subspecies of geese. UUI votes and sharing.


sgbrown profile image

sgbrown 3 years ago from Southern Oklahoma Author

Oh, Rolly! That is too funny! I do wish I could have seen that. I'm sorry, that probably hurt a bit too! I love to watch the geese and have been chased off by a couple before. Thank you so much for stopping in and I really enjoyed your story! Have a wonderful day! :)


Rolly A Chabot profile image

Rolly A Chabot 3 years ago from Alberta Canada

Hi SB... thanks for writing this and I do agree they are amazing birds to watch in the air and on the ground. Over the years of being involved in the Golf Course industry irrigation ponds have been a favorite place to nest. Early one morning I was out checking the greens on foot and I had a gander come after me because I got to close to his nest. Wearing cut offs was not a good choice that morning. He managed to get in a rather nasty swipe on the back of my upper thigh... still laugh thinking of me on the run with a goose hanging onto what he thought might be breakfast... lol


sgbrown profile image

sgbrown 3 years ago from Southern Oklahoma Author

Hello DDE! I'm glad you found my hub interesting. Thank you for stopping in and leaving your kind comment! Have a wonderful day! :)


DDE profile image

DDE 3 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

Most interesting information you went all out here I didn't know of this I learned something new here thanks


sgbrown profile image

sgbrown 3 years ago from Southern Oklahoma Author

Hello Bravewarrior! Thank you. I'm glad you found my hub interesting. Thanks for stopping in and commenting. Have a great day! :)


bravewarrior profile image

bravewarrior 3 years ago from Central Florida

Very interesting. Thank you, Sheila!


sgbrown profile image

sgbrown 3 years ago from Southern Oklahoma Author

Hi moonlake! I love to hear the geese as the fly over. We have a lot of ducks on our ponds but never any geese. I think our ponds are too small for them. Canada geese can be quite fierce when they want to be! I was chased by one at the lake one time. Thanks for stopping in! Have a great evening! :)


moonlake profile image

moonlake 3 years ago from America

In the spring there will be Canadian Geese in the field across from our house. I love to watch them I know some people don't like them but I do.

My parents tame goose once bite me, it hurts and there was no way I could get away from him. He was determined to bite me.

Voted up on your hub.


sgbrown profile image

sgbrown 3 years ago from Southern Oklahoma Author

Hi Patricia! I too, love to hear them fly over. I look forward to hearing them soon and know that spring is not far behind. Thank you for stopping by, I appreciate your support! :)


pstraubie48 profile image

pstraubie48 3 years ago from sunny Florida

I love that sound and that parade as they fly over. I would hear it and know that a chill would soon follow. I did not hear any this year...maybe I missed them which saddens me if it is so.

Great hub. Voted up.


sgbrown profile image

sgbrown 3 years ago from Southern Oklahoma Author

Thank you grandmapearl! I love to listen to the geese flying over! I'm glad you enjoyed my hub, thank you for your kind comment, and vote! Have a wonderful day! :)


grandmapearl profile image

grandmapearl 3 years ago from Southern Tier New York State

I look and listen for the geese every October and March. The last several years we have had a resident flock of geese that have wintered over. I suspect the warmer climate has had something to do with that. There is a large pond just over the hill from here as well as a large pasture or two. Thanks for all this good information about Canada geese. I learned a lot and voted Up, Useful and Interesting!


sgbrown profile image

sgbrown 3 years ago from Southern Oklahoma Author

Hello Eddie! I too love anything to do with animals. I thought my primary focus here would be photography, but I have found that I love writing more about animals than anything else. Although I do throw my own pictures in when I can. Thank you for your kind comment, vote and share! It is always appreciated. Have a wonderful day! :)


sgbrown profile image

sgbrown 3 years ago from Southern Oklahoma Author

Hi Vespa! I have always loved listening to the geese also. I didn't realized there were 11 subspecies either, so I learned something new there as well. The geese would have to fight me for the bluberries also, lucky for them, there aren't any in my area or the fight would be on! Thanks for stopping in and commenting! Have a wonderful day! :)


Eiddwen profile image

Eiddwen 3 years ago from Wales

Thank you so much for sharing this wonderful hub.

I love anything to do with animals/nature etc.and this one was indeed a treat.

I vote up and share.

Eddy.


vespawoolf profile image

vespawoolf 3 years ago from Peru, South America

I've always admired Canadian guese and enjoyed their honking as they travel in V formation. I didn't realize that there are 11 subspecies! They'd have to fight me for the blueberries. : ) Very interesting, thanks!


sgbrown profile image

sgbrown 3 years ago from Southern Oklahoma Author

Hello Rajan! I don't believe they fly as far as India, but they have been found in Brittain. They are mainly North American birds. I love the fact that they mate for life and are so protective of their young. Perhaps we should be more like the Canada Goose! Thank you for stopping in and voting, it is always appreciated! Have a wonderful day! :)


sgbrown profile image

sgbrown 3 years ago from Southern Oklahoma Author

Hello Deb! I wish I could see Goose Island! I be that is a great place to see in spring. I haven't really noticed anything yet. I am so ready for spring! I sure look forward to them coming back in. Thanks for your kind words and comment. I look forward to more of your lake hubs as the weather improves! Have a wonderful day! :)


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 3 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

It is so interesting learning about the Canada goose. Haven't seen them though as they probably don't fly so far out as where I live. They are lovely creatures with a fiercely guarding nature towards their offsprings.

Thanks for sharing these facts.

Voted up and beautiful.


sgbrown profile image

sgbrown 3 years ago from Southern Oklahoma Author

Hi Stephanie! I love hearing the geese as they fly overhead! When we go camping at a nearby lake, I like to get up early and watch them fly in. That is so cool that 4 lanes of traffic will stop for the geese! Thank you for stopping by and commenting, it is always appreciated! Have a wonderful day! :)


sgbrown profile image

sgbrown 3 years ago from Southern Oklahoma Author

Hi JKenny! Thank you! I too, love hearing them honk as they fly overhead. It's such a "wild, nature" sound. They really can be aggressive when protecting their young, as you found out! :) Thanks for stopping in and commenting, it is always appreciated! :)


sgbrown profile image

sgbrown 3 years ago from Southern Oklahoma Author

Hi Jackie! So glad you were able to help the goose with a broken wing. Some people would have just left it to die. I love to hear the geese when they fly overhead. I plan on getting some good shots this spring too! Thanks for commenting! Have a great day! :)


sgbrown profile image

sgbrown 3 years ago from Southern Oklahoma Author

Hi Carol! You have never seen a Canada Goose! Girl, you need to get around some lakes out there in Arizona. I am glad you enjoyed my hub! Thank you for your kind comment and vote! Have a wonderful day! :)


aviannovice profile image

aviannovice 3 years ago from Stillwater, OK

Good job, sg! My group at Boomer Lake is settling in and choosing mates. Goose Island is getting ready to be rather noisy quite soon. Any activity in your area?


sgbrown profile image

sgbrown 3 years ago from Southern Oklahoma Author

Hi Bill! I love hearing them fly over. It's such a "wild, nature" sound. It does make me smile. Thank you for stopping in and commenting! Have a wonderful day my friend! :)


Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 3 years ago from USA

Very enjoyable and well-researched article on Canada Geese! We have many of these geese year around where I live, and I always love to see the goslings with their parents. When visiting our son in New York State, there are Canada geese living on a pond in front of a Walmart on a busy road. We've seen 4 lanes of traffic stopped several times to let the family of Canada geese cross the road with the female leading the way and the male guarding the rear.


JKenny profile image

JKenny 3 years ago from Birmingham, England

Great article. We have Canada's in Britain, and while they're not native to us, I do love hearing them honk as they fly over my head. I also admire the devotion to parental duty- I say this because I remember a gander went for me as I walked past him and his family down the park path. He well and truly taught me a lesson.


Jackie Lynnley profile image

Jackie Lynnley 3 years ago from The Beautiful South

I got interested in geese last summer and got one saved with a broken wing. They really are entertaining. I missed a fabulous shot of about 15 or 20 coming in for a landing and can't wait to rectify that come spring. Interesting hub, thank you.


carol7777 profile image

carol7777 3 years ago from Arizona

Never have seen one but now I have. Well put together and I always enjoy learning something new. Thanks for sharing all this. UP.


billybuc profile image

billybuc 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

They are loud honkers, aren't they? I love seeing them fly in formation...it's one of those acts of nature that make you smile. :)

Great information my friend!

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