Canada geese (Branta canadensis) are wild plant-eating birds being found in North America. They fly all across northern North America. Canada goose often walks on the grassy lawns of parks and golf courses. These long-neck species are considered pests for they often produce green slimy feces that could stain clothes and ponds. It is one of the nature’s magnificent splendors and as they fly south in autumn it numbers in thousands.
CANADIAN GEESE FACTS
ANATOMY of Canadian Geese
- Canada goose is 21.7–43.3 in (55–110 cm) long and weighs up to 4.5–14.4 lb (2.06–6.52 kg).
- The average wingspan is 4 – 6’.
- They have three toes which are connected so as to give it paddle-like feet.
- They have a prominent dark-colored neck and a mottled plumage.
- Canada geese are blessed with a built-in compass which helps them to navigate even in cloudy areas when there are no stars to guide birds.
- The goose does not have teeth rather it has tooth-like serrations at the upper and lower mandibles of the bill. These mandibles make it too easy for a bird to grip plants.
- Thanks to its long neck which helps it get to the food which would otherwise be unreachable.
- Giant canada goose (Branta canadensis maxima) is the largest subspecies. It is found in the northern United States. B. c. minima of Alaska is the smallest goose species.
DISTRIBUTION of Canadian Geese
- c. leucopareia is one of the goose species being found in the Aleutian Islands; it spends winters in California.
- c. minima lives in the west coast of Alaska. It also moves to California in winter.
- c. taverneri inhabits Alaska to western Northwest Territory. It migrates to Washington south to northern Mexico.
- c. occidentalis is typically found in the southwestern Alaska; however as the winter approaches it flies from Prince William Sound south to northern California.
- c. fulva breeds in the coastal southern Alaska and western British Columbia.
- c. parvipes lives in the north central Canada; while in winter it moves from California south to Louisiana and northern Mexico.
- c. moffitti is known to live occupy British Columbia east to Manitoba and in south from northern California to eastern Colorado; in winters it is distributed all over the southern part of its range and northern Mexico.
- c. maxima: is a goose which inhabits Alberta to Manitoba.
- c. hutchensii: arctic tundra of Canada; winters in New Mexico, Texas, and northeastern Mexico.
- c. interior is native to the central and eastern Canada; in winters they move from Wisconsin east to New York, and south to Gulf and Atlantic coasts.
- c. Canadensis is widely distributed in the northeastern Canada whereas in winter it lives along the eastern coastal provinces of Canada south to North Carolina. Some of these species were also introduced into northwestern Europe, New Zealand, and United Kingdom.
HABITAT of Canadian Geese
- Canadian geese are most likely to make homes in semi-desert open areas such as agricultural lands, tundra, and wooded areas.
- They feel home in freshwater wetlands, ranging from tundra belt to lakeside pastures, plains, and swamps.
- In the winter Canada geese fancy living in coastal marshes, estuaries, and some cultivated fields.
- In urban areas in Europe and U.S. geese has colonized many parks, golf courses, reservoirs, and farmlands. Unlike other species these birds are non-migratory.
BEHAVIOR of Canadian Geese
- Canada goose is a migratory species. It is also highly territorial.
- It is strange that these birds find their way back to the same area where they first take flight; how do they make it is still a mystery for scientists.
- Those birds that nest in the far north are known to travel great distances.
- Some of the arctic birds fly as far as 3,000 miles around the Gulf of Mexico. The southern birds fly only a hundred miles.
- The northern geese migrate in small flocks but their journey lasts long.
- Canadian geese travel in V-formations and because of which they are able to conserve energy as they keep on altering their positions.
- They have a unique style of losing height while flying. Geese will lose its height and fall like a free-falling leaf but will drop its feet seconds before landing.
- The Canada goose is a quick learner and it flies extremely high within no time.
- The goose travels at a speed of 4 miles per hour while migrating. They fly at a height of 3,300 feet. They are also known to fly as high as 12,045 feet but flight at this much height is seldom observed.
- There is a very strong bond between pairs for if one of the partners get injured the other one stays behind.
FEEDING DIET AND ECOLOGY of Canadian Geese
- Canada geese are plant-eating birds and the diet is mostly vegetarian. When on water it submerges its head and also grazes on land.
- The goose is a regular grazer. It consumes many different plants matter such as roots, leaves, stems, seeds, rhizomes, and fruits.
- The bird mostly eats on a land and rarely in water. They gather in large numbers especially at sunrise.
- At present geese do not migrate too far for now they easily find food in the northern areas.
REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY of Canadian Geese
- They are monogamous creatures and they breed in spring.
- The female builds the nest with a pile of vegetation and it is lined with down. The male will guard the nest against any potential predator until the eggs are ready to hatch. Once the chicks are out, both male and female will look after them.
- The female nests in the shallow ground where she lays 4 – 7 eggs.
- The incubation lasts 24 – 30 days.
- The fledging period lasts 6 – 12 weeks.
- They attain the maturity after 2 – 3 years.
- The breeding interval is one year.
- The breeding season ranges from March to July.
- The average lifespan of Canada goose is up to 23 years.
CONSERVATION STATUS of Canadian Geese
- In the late 19th or early 20th century these species were hunted to almost extinction. Thanks to the federal laws and international treatises which were imposed just in time to put an end to the animal shooting.
- Now they are present in large numbers because of the conservation efforts. Michigan was once home to about 9,000 Canada geese (in 1970) but at present the numbers reach 300,000.