Canada Goose (Branta canadensis)  


Class: Aves
Order: Anseriformes
Family:    Anatidae
Size:    Length: 25 to 45 inches (64 to 114 cm)  Wingspread:  48 to 72 inches (120 to 180 cm)
Weight: 3 to 13 pounds (1.4 to 5.9 kg)
Diet: Grass, grain, water vegetation as well as fish and insects
Distribution: North America, British Isles, Scandinavia, Germany, the Netherlands and New Zealand 
Young:  5 to 6 goslings, once per year
Animal Predators:  Coyotes, foxes, skunks and raccoons
IUCN Status: No special status
Terms: Young: Gosling  Group:  Flock or Gaggle   Male: Gander  Female: Goose
Lifespan: 20 to 40 years



·        Canada geese can survive up to 30 days without food.

·        The honking of Canada geese as they fly overhead is very distinctive.

·        They are the most familiar and common geese in Canada.



Canada geese have grey-brown feathers as well as white markings, mainly on the underside of their tail and on their lower neck. Their head and upper neck is entirely black with a white patch under and around the chin, referred to as a “chin strap.” There is also a white area where the neck meets the chest. They have a long, flexible neck and short, strong legs. The 11 subspecies of Canada goose vary geographically in breast colour, with the western subspecies having a darker breast than the eastern. As well, the northerly subspecies are smaller in size. 



Canada geese return to the same nesting place year after year. They usually migrate south, flying in their famous V formations, which signifies the changing of the season. They are native to North America, but have been introduced to various areas in Europe, where their numbers are increasing rapidly. Canada geese live by lakes, rivers, marshes and bays, whether in the wild or in parks. 


Feeding Habits

They eat grass, grain, and water vegetation, as well as fish and insects on occasion. They usually migrate south with the onset of winter, but recently, many have begun to stay in northern climates during the winter because they have become accustomed to being fed by people. 



Females build a nest of twigs and leaves, lined with grass, down and feathers. The female sits on the eggs, which are white, while the male stands guard, protectively watching over her until the eggs hatch. The preferred site for the nest is a small island or a beaver lodge, or any small piece of land separated from mainland by a moat-like region of water. The eggs are hidden within the nest, under grass and pieces of down that the female has pulled from her breast to keep the eggs warm and to hide them while she takes one or two brief breaks per day. The eggs hatch after 25 to 28 days of incubation, and the goslings will be able to leave the nest when they are approximately one month of age. Both parents are equally responsible for taking care of their young and will aggressively defend their goslings and mates from predators. Goslings are nearly full grown within 10 weeks of hatching. When the young are able to fly, the family may move to another site. Flocks are made up of family members, and the young often stay with their parents for years, until they find mates of their own.



Canada geese mate for life and some geese are so attached to their mate that after losing them, they will not mate again. People are drawn to this bird because of its beauty, and many feed the bird in parks. These birds are very friendly and will approach humans. 



There has been an increase in population, mainly due to habitat restoration and their ability to live in urban areas, leading to suggestions that the geese be culled. This in itself is a problem, however, because these geese are very loving and loyal and become quite distraught when they lose a member of their family. Animal lovers in the UK, the US and Canada are working to protect this beautiful, friendly bird. 



Canada Goose Wildlife Fact File, IM Pub, US

National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America (1999)

Harrison, C. and Greensmith, A. (1993). Birds of the World. London: Dorling Kindersley Limited