Canada geese live in the Arctic and the North American continent.
Sometimes, migration takes them to Europe! With time, they’ve also been introduced in Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Chile, and Japan.
What Do Canada Geese Look Like?
Canada geese are large. In fact, they can even grow 43 inches long. They have a black neck and head. Along with their cheeks, the area under their chin is white.
Their bodies are brown all over. This description is true of both males and females.
They can weigh anywhere between 6.6 and 19.8 pounds, and their wingspan is between 4.2 and 5.6 feet! These popular birds are herbivores and can live for an average of 24 years in the wild.
Canada geese in Iowa are especially hefty.
Where Do Canada Geese Live?
Known for their adaptability, the Canada geese can thrive in regions abundant with grains, grasses, and berries.
They spend the summer in the northern region of the North American continent and head south at the onset of cold weather.
Changes in the weather, farming, and settlement patterns are actively impacting the geese’s migration patterns.
Some geese end up going to Mexico and the southern region of the United States.
They also flock to golf courses, parks, and the suburbs.
However, their population is sometimes considered nothing short of a nuisance. This is because, for every 50 geese, almost 3 tons of solid waste is produced.
What Do the Canada Geese Eat?
Canada geese prefer grains, grasses, and seaweed. Even though they’re herbivores, they sometimes eat small aquatic creatures, fish, and insects.
They also help themselves to rice and wheat.
During summer and spring, they get their fix of eelgrass and skunk cabbage leaves. In the winter and fall seasons, seeds and berries account for a significant portion of their diet.
They love blueberries and are highly skilled when it comes to extracting kernels from corn.
Some Fun Facts about Canada Geese
Now let’s learn about some fun facts about the Canada Geese that you may find fascinating.
Migration Patterns of Canada Geese
When migrating, Canadian geese form beautiful “V” formations in the sky. Aptly, these are also referred to as “chevrons.” They fly in groups of 30 to 100.
If the wind is favorable, these birds can cover close to 1500 miles in about 24 hours.
They fly at an hourly rate of about 40 miles, which can even go up to 70 miles provided the tailwind is strong.
In order to get away from land-dwelling predators and forage for food, geese need access to water.
They aren’t fans of icy water. During the winter months, they can span a distance of a whopping 2000 to 3000 miles in search of open water.
As is the case with migratory birds, they fly the same route each year. These are called “flyways.” Canada geese use the following flyways:
- Atlantic flyway
- Central flyway
- Mississippi flyway
- Pacific flyway
They typically begin to fly at dusk, but this isn’t set in stone.
They’re Energy Efficient
This characteristic “V” formation does not just make for a pretty picture. What we can’t observe from our vantage point down below is that each goose in the shape flies at a different height.
Each bird that flies behind another does so at a slightly higher position than the one immediately in front.
They do this is so that the bird in front cuts through the headwind, allowing the rest to glide along. This is called a “drafting effect.”
Even their signature honking sounds during migrations are not at random.
By doing so, they communicate to others in the formation to swap positions. This saves the birds at the fore from exhaustion.
Baby Geese are Drawn to anything Moving
They are drawn to anything and everything in motion, ranging from human beings to animals.
They also start pecking at objects shortly after hatching. Time just flies by as they spend most of it feeding and sleeping.
Baby Geese are Fast Learners
Baby geese, or goslings, are adept at picking up information. They are born with their eyes open and have yellowish feathers. They step away from the nest soon after.
They have just enough energy reserves to help them get by for 2 days without feeding.
They mimic adult geese and start swimming only 24 hours after being born. In fact, they can dive several feet underwater the very next day!
When they’re two months old, their parents start giving flying lessons. After spending a year or so with the adults, goslings become increasingly independent.
They even go on to form groups with other geese their age. These groups comprise about 100 goslings and are known as “gang broods.”
They Mate for Life
When they’re two to three years of age, Canada geese start scouting for mates.
They use a system called “assortative mating,” which in layman terms means that they’re on the lookout for a partner that is roughly the same size as them.
Loyal to the core, Canada geese mate for as long as 20 years.
The only exception is if either partner passes; only then will the goose left behind be open to choosing a new mate.
Nesting of Canada Goose
Their nests are mounds comprising grasses, cattails, mosses, lichens, and down.
They are near water. Anywhere between 4 and 7 eggs form a single clutch, which the female incubates. The incubation period can last up to 30 days.
The female is responsible for selecting the site of the nest as well as building it. Even after they’ve hatched, geese will brood their babies while they sleep.
Ganders (male geese) take it upon themselves to guard the nest. They fight off any threats that approach it.
They’ve Returned From the Dead
As dramatic as it sounds, Canada geese almost went the way of the dodo during the 1990s.
Efforts were underway, and programs were set in place to save the species. One such program happens annually, which entails placing bands on their legs.
This aids researchers when it comes to acquiring information about migratory patterns.
The geese were also protected by law in hopes of reviving their declining population. In areas where their numbers had plummeted markedly so, they were reintroduced.
All these efforts have paid off, seeing as geese are now a game bird. Furthermore, there are rising concerns about their great numbers because they damage crops.
When They Feel Threatened
One thing is for sure. Canada geese are not timid by any means. If they feel threatened, they pull out all the stops. This is even truer when it comes to their goslings.
These geese will make hissing sounds and start honking like there’s no tomorrow while they stretch their necks. Those with ill intentions should interpret this as a warning sign.
Canada geese also bite and slap their wings when agitated and are not above attacking the source of their misery.
Geese also do a fair bit of head pumping, and their open beaks display a raised tongue. If the threat is one of their own kind, they engage in a fight by grabbing the throat or breast.
They slap each other using their wings. Such a scuffle results in injuries for both parties.
Ganders are especially fierce and will go to any lengths to defend their partner and goslings. There’s just no bowing out for them; they will attack an elk if they have to.
Geese undergo molting each year when the temperature rises.
This six-week period can be challenging because they can’t fly. This makes them susceptible to predatory attacks by foxes, coyotes, and raccoons.
Not ones to flee at the first sign of danger, Canada geese will employ their tried-and-tested tactics. Only if they fail will they head towards the water and swim to safer pastures.
They Love Manicured Lawns
The simple fact is that the increase in urbanization lowers the migration of Canada geese.
Several suburban homes now feature sprawling yards complete with artificial ponds. These geese gravitate towards them like a moth to a flame.
An added advantage of these spots is that there are no predators, which gives these geese one less thing to worry about.
Moreover, artificial bodies of water are typically heated and so freezing is simply out of the question.
In addition to loving grass, the vast and open space affords them the luxury of being able to spot a threat before it gets too close for comfort.
All in all, such spots have everything geese could need.
They Can Be a Nuisance
They feed on grass and damage crops. They ruin well-kept lawns with excrement. They are loud, and they attack when defending themselves and their territory.
They are also regarded as a serious threat to airplanes. Flocks can wreak havoc on planes because of their large size.
To deter them, sounds that mimic those of predators are played. Since geese eat shorter grasses, taller variants are planted instead.
If you want to discourage them from walking on your lawn, place a plastic mesh over the grass.
All in all, Canada geese seem to have fiery personalities and, with it, the confidence to boot. As with all animals, they deserve nurturing and kindness.
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