Canada Goose

Canada Goose - Anseriformes Anatidae Branta canadensis


Identification & Description:
• Large waterbird.
• Sexes similar
• Large long-necked goose
• Black bill
• Black head and long neck
• White throat patch extends up to cheek
• Brown back, upper wing and flanks
• Brownish-white breast and belly
• White upper tail coverts contrast with black tail
• White undertail coverts
• Great size variation, with some northern subspecies duck-sized
• Immature similar to adult
• White chinstrap.
• Light tan to cream breast feathers.
• Brownish back.
• White undertail.
• Size: 76-110 cm (30-43 in)
• Wingspan: 127-170 cm (50-67 in)
• Weight: 3000-9000 g (105.9-317.7 ounces)

Similar species:
Similar only to Brant, which has a black breast, white flanks and a small white neck patch rather than a large white throat and cheek patch.

Life History Groupings
• Migration Status: N/A
• Breeding Habitat: Wetland-open water
• Clutch Size: 4-10
• Length of Incubation: 25-30 days
• Days to Fledge: 40-73
• Number of Broods: 1
• Diet:
Almost Exclusively: Plant Matter
Lesser Quantities of: Aquatic Invertebrates

• At least 11 subspecies of Canada Goose have been recognized, although only a couple are distinctive. In general, the geese get smaller as you move northward, and darker as you go westward. The four smallest forms are now considered a different species: the Cackling Goose.

• Some migratory populations of the Canada Goose are not going as far south in the winter as they used to. This northward range shift has been attributed to changes in farm practices that makes waste grain more available in fall and winter, as well as changes in hunting pressure and changes in weather.

• Individual Canada Geese from most populations make annual northward migrations after breeding. Nonbreeding geese, or those that lost nests early in the breeding season, may move anywhere from several kilometers to more than 1500 km northward. There they take advantage of vegetation in an earlier state of growth to fuel their molt. Even members of "resident" populations, which do not migrate southward in winter, will move north in late summer to molt.

• The giant Canada goose subspecies, B. canadensis maxima, formerly bred from central Manitoba to Kentucky. It was nearly driven extinct in the early 1900s. Programs to reestablish the subspecies to it original range were tremendously successful, and in fact, in some places were too successful. The numerous introductions and translocations created a number of resident populations, and the geese have become a nuisance in many urban and suburban areas.

Other Names
Bernache du Canada (French)
Ganso canadiense (Spanish)

The Canada goose is a member of the duck family, Anatidae, in the order Anseriformes, and is classified as Branta canadensis. The cackling Canada goose is classified as Branta canadensis minima and the giant Canada goose is classified as Branta canadensis maxima.

Canada Goose, common name of the most well-known and widely distributed goose in North America. It ranges from arctic Canada and Alaska into Siberia, and winters as far south as Japan, the southern United States, and central Mexico. It has been successfully introduced into Great Britain and continental Europe. The Canada goose normally lives near wooded lakes, ponds, bays, and marshes, but is becoming a year-round resident in urbanized areas, including golf courses and city parks. Its early morning honking, feces droppings on yards and sidewalks, and damage to gardens has led many suburban residents to view it as an unwelcome pest. The Canada goose flies in a distinctive V-shaped formation and makes a loud, deep honking call.

There are at least ten races or subspecies of Canada goose that vary considerably in size. They range in length from the 55 cm (22 in) cackling Canada goose to the 114 cm (45 in) giant Canada goose. The plumage also varies by race but is typically gray-brown on the back, with a light gray breast, a black neck and head, and a white patch extending under the chin and across each cheek. The Canada goose forages during the early morning and late afternoon mostly by grazing in flocks. Its diet consists primarily of plant material, including stems and shoots of grasses, aquatic plants, seeds, and berries.

The Canada goose forms mating pairs that may last for life. The female builds the nest on slightly elevated dry ground near water. The nest is a slight depression made of sticks, grass, weeds, and moss, lined with down. The female incubates, or warms, the four to seven white eggs by sitting on them for 25 to 28 days while the male stands guard nearby, defending the nesting area by gesturing and hissing. Both parents tend to the young even though they are able to feed themselves. The young first fly six to nine weeks after hatching, depending upon their race. The Canada goose is unusual in that it develops strong family bonds with the young that last well beyond the breeding season.

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