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Canada Goose

Branta canadensis

Canada Goose

Appearance

Canada geese have patchy grey and white feathers on their back and a belly that can be white, brown or almost black. Their neck, head and tail feathers are black, and they have a solid white patch across their cheeks and chin. Adult Canada geese weigh up to eight kilograms, and their wingspan can be almost two metres.

Range & Habitat

These geese are found across Canada and in parts of the US and Mexico at different times throughout the year. They migrate north to breed in the summertime and go south to spend the winters. In a few places, there are Canada geese that stay year round. Canada geese spend much of their time in swamps, wetlands and lightly wooded moist areas.

Diet & Behaviour

They feed on grasses, small plants, berries and water weeds. In the summer, they put on a lot of fat to insulate them through the winter months and they can spend a long time without eating. Canada geese fly and nest in large flocks and are particularly aggressive birds while protecting their young and their habitats.

Lifecycle & Threats

Canada geese return to the same breeding grounds every year. They fly from their southern wintering grounds to the northern US and Canada to nest. Once they have found a nesting site, on an island or a shoreline, they lay from five to seven eggs. The eggs take almost a month to hatch and the family starts walking away from the nest site soon after the chicks have hatched. During this time, the adults are moulting and they can’t fly for about a month. Once the chicks and adults can fly they join up with other geese and begin the long journey south. Canada geese are threatened by hunting, some predatio and in some places, habitat loss. In other places though, there are almost too many geese and they have become nuisances in golf courses and parks.

Status

COSEWIC: Not at Risk
CDC: Most populations are Yellow, but a couple are Blue because of habitat loss and over-hunting.

More Information

www.canadiangeographic.ca

Photo: Chuq VonRospach