All About Canada Geese
- Scientific Name: Branta Canadenis
- Common Name: Canada Goose
- Largest of the 11 Sub-Species
- Average Weight Anywhere From 8-20 lbs.
- Easily Distinguishable Birds By Large Grey Bodies, Black Neck and Heads with a White Chinstrap
- Lifespan of 10-25 Years
- Feed for 12 Hours a Day
- Spend More Time On Land Than Water (Even Though They are Considered Waterfowl)
- Average Wingspan Reaches Anywhere from 4-5.5 feet
- Found in All of the Continental United States
- Estimated U.S. Population of 8 Million
- Population Doubles Every 3-5 Years
Canada Goose Nesting Behavior
Geese will pair up in their 2nd Year. Once they find a mate, they stay with them for life. If one dies, they may or may find another mate. It varies slightly by geographical location, but geese begin pairing up in early spring and nest anywhere from late March until late early May. Both parents will fiercely guard the nest. The Male (gander) stays close by searching for food while the Female sits on the nest. Each nest will have anywhere from 4-7 eggs. The incubation time is 25-30 days. Once hatched, the goslings are immediately able to walk, swim and feed. The parents will lead them to water within 24 hours of being hatched for safety.
Goslings are very impressionable, and will sometimes follow anything that walks. They have been seen to follow ducks, dogs and even people. This is one of the reasons they are so cute and endearing to us. They will remain by their parents side until the following spring. All geese will return to their birthplace to find a mate and have their own family. One of the reasons a small flock can grow in number so quickly is because they inherently return to their place of birth.
Canada Goose Diet and Habitat
Canada Geese are highly adaptable birds. They have moved away from their once natural environments and flourished in suburban and urban areas. They prefer well-manicured lawns and to be close to a water source. Retention ponds, found at many commercial and industrial sites, are one of their favorite places. Because they have moved away from many of their natural predators and away from where people can legally hunt them, their population has exploded over the past few decades and shows no sign of slowing down. They are social birds that prefer to stay in large groups (except while nesting). Geese usually live near ponds, lakes, rivers, grain fields, and both free and saltwater marshes. Their diet consists primarily of grass, although they will resort to eating other green plants and small bugs when food sources get scarce. One goose will eat up to 3 lbs of grass on one day. Geese typically visit 7-10 different daily feeding sites, spending about an hour at each. They head back to the water at night time to roost.
Migratory or Residential Geese?
Even though geese are protected Federally protected under the Migratory Bird Act, they are almost all residential geese today. Migrating is a learned behavior, so all it takes is one generation of geese not teaching their goslings to migrate, and the ability is forever lost. Because geese have found more places of safety and less of a reason to migrate south, almost all geese nowadays will stay in the same location year-round. When geese do fly, they communicate by loud honking and form a distinctive V-Pattern Shape to conserve energy. The shape allows for the “drafting effect” to take place. This is where the a strong goose leads at the front and each bird will fly slightly above the bird in front, thus reducing the wind resistance. They are capable of flying up to 1500 miles in one day. When the lead goose tires, it moves to the back and another takes their turn in the lead.
Problems Geese Cause
Even just a small flock of geese can cause big problems. With geese eating as much as 3 lbs of grass in just one day and creating up to 2 lbs of droppings, a property can look pretty bad in just a short amount of time. Goose droppings carry dangerous bacteria and parasites that can be dangerous for humans and our furry friends. Goose droppings have been known to carry bacteria such as E Coli, salmonella, giardia, and more. Geese and their droppings also contribute to high fecal coliform counts in water and cause algae blooms. Both lead to unsafe water conditions for people, pets and aquatic life. Besides messing up your property, geese are loud birds, especially in big flocks. They are extremely aggressive towards humans and other animals while trying to protect their young. They will even challenge their natural predators, and fight to the death, to protect their families.
Seasonal Geese Patterns
Canada Geese are creatures of habit. Once they imprint on a location, it is often difficult to make them leave. The best way to get Canada Geese to leave a property is to take away their food & safety. Using a Goose Repellent like Flight Control® Plus will remove their food source and make the birds feel less safe. This will make the area less appealing to them, ultimately forcing them leave to find a more attractive site. Molt is a process that geese go through approximately 6 weeks after their goslings are hatched. Molt is a period where the geese loose their flight feather to grow new ones. During molt , the geese are completely unable to fly and are forced to walk wherever they go.