Canada goose

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Canada goose
Canada goose on Seedskadee NWR (27826185489).jpg
Canada goose (Branta canadensis')
Call of Canada Geese Brownsea Island, Dorset, March 1966
Scientific classification Red Pencil Icon.png
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Anseriformes
Family: Anatidae
Genus: Branta
B. canadensis
Binomial name
Branta canadensis
Branta canadensis map.png
Canada goose distribution:     Summer range (native)     Year-round range (native)     Wintering range (native)     Summer range (introduced)     Year-round range (introduced)     Wintering range (introduced)     Summer range (cackling goose)

Anas canadensisLinnaeus, 1758

The Canada goose (Branta canadensis) is a large wild goose species with a black head and neck, white cheeks, white under its chin, and a brown body. Native to arctic and temperate regions of North America, its migration occasionally reaches northern Europe. It has been introduced to the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Argentina, Chile, and the Falkland Islands. [2] Like most geese, the Canada goose is primarily herbivorous and normally migratory; it tends to be found on or close to fresh water.

Geese are waterfowl of the family Anatidae. This group comprises the genera Anser and Branta . Chen, a genus comprising 'white geese', is sometimes used to refer to a group of species that are more commonly placed within Anser. Some other birds, mostly related to the shelducks, have "goose" as part of their names. More distantly related members of the family Anatidae are swans, most of which are larger than true geese, and ducks, which are smaller.

North America Continent entirely within the Northern Hemisphere and almost all within the Western Hemisphere

North America is a continent entirely within the Northern Hemisphere and almost all within the Western Hemisphere. It is also considered by some to be a northern subcontinent of the Americas. It is bordered to the north by the Arctic Ocean, to the east by the Atlantic Ocean, to the west and south by the Pacific Ocean, and to the southeast by South America and the Caribbean Sea.

Europe Continent in the Northern Hemisphere and mostly in the Eastern Hemisphere

Europe is a continent located entirely in the Northern Hemisphere and mostly in the Eastern Hemisphere. It is bordered by the Arctic Ocean to the north, the Atlantic Ocean to the west, Asia to the east, and the Mediterranean Sea to the south. It comprises the westernmost part of Eurasia.


Extremely successful at living in human-altered areas, Canada geese have proven able to establish breeding colonies in urban and cultivated areas, which provide food and few natural predators. The success of this common park species has led to its often being considered a pest species because of their depredation of crops and their noise, droppings, aggressive territorial behavior, and habit of begging for food (caused by human hand feeding).

Pest (organism) Animal or plant detrimental to humans or human concerns

A pest is any animal or plant detrimental to humans or human concerns, including crops, livestock, and forestry. The term is also used of organisms that cause a nuisance, such as in the home. An older usage is of a deadly epidemic disease, specifically plague. In its broadest sense, a pest is a competitor of humanity.

Nomenclature and taxonomy

The Canada goose was one of the many species described by Carl Linnaeus in his 18th-century work Systema Naturae . [3] It belongs to the Branta genus of geese, which contains species with largely black plumage, distinguishing them from the grey species of the genus Anser .

Carl Linnaeus Swedish botanist, physician, and zoologist

Carl Linnaeus, also known after his ennoblement as Carl von Linné, was a Swedish botanist, physician, and zoologist who formalised binomial nomenclature, the modern system of naming organisms. He is known as the "father of modern taxonomy". Many of his writings were in Latin, and his name is rendered in Latin as Carolus Linnæus.

<i>Systema Naturae</i> major work by Carolus Linnaeus

Systema Naturae is one of the major works of the Swedish botanist, zoologist and physician Carl Linnaeus (1707–1778) and introduced the Linnaean taxonomy. Although the system, now known as binomial nomenclature, was partially developed by the Bauhin brothers, Gaspard and Johann, 200 years earlier, Linnaeus was first to use it consistently throughout his book. The first edition was published in 1735. The full title of the 10th edition (1758), which was the most important one, was Systema naturæ per regna tria naturæ, secundum classes, ordines, genera, species, cum characteribus, differentiis, synonymis, locis or translated: "System of nature through the three kingdoms of nature, according to classes, orders, genera and species, with characters, differences, synonyms, places".

A genus is a taxonomic rank used in the biological classification of living and fossil organisms, as well as viruses, in biology. In the hierarchy of biological classification, genus comes above species and below family. In binomial nomenclature, the genus name forms the first part of the binomial species name for each species within the genus.

Branta is a Latinised form of Old Norse Brandgás, "burnt (black) goose" and the specific epithet canadensis is a New Latin word meaning "from Canada". [4] According to the Oxford English Dictionary , the first citation for the 'Canada goose' dates back to 1772. [5] [6] [7] The Canada goose is also colloquially referred to as the "Canadian goose". [8]

Old Norse North Germanic language

Old Norse was a North Germanic language that was spoken by inhabitants of Scandinavia and their overseas settlements from about the 9th to the 13th centuries.

New Latin form of the Latin language between c. 1375 and c. 1900

New Latin was a revival in the use of Latin in original, scholarly, and scientific works between c. 1375 and c. 1900. Modern scholarly and technical nomenclature, such as in zoological and botanical taxonomy and international scientific vocabulary, draws extensively from New Latin vocabulary. In such use, New Latin is subject to new word formation. As a language for full expression in prose or poetry, however, it is often distinguished from its successor, Contemporary Latin.

Canada Country in North America

Canada is a country in the northern part of North America. Its ten provinces and three territories extend from the Atlantic to the Pacific and northward into the Arctic Ocean, covering 9.98 million square kilometres, making it the world's second-largest country by total area. Canada's southern border with the United States, stretching some 8,891 kilometres (5,525 mi), is the world's longest bi-national land border. Its capital is Ottawa, and its three largest metropolitan areas are Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver. As a whole, Canada is sparsely populated, the majority of its land area being dominated by forest and tundra. Consequently, its population is highly urbanized, with over 80 percent of its inhabitants concentrated in large and medium-sized cities, with 70% of citizens residing within 100 kilometres (62 mi) of the southern border. Canada's climate varies widely across its vast area, ranging from arctic weather in the north, to hot summers in the southern regions, with four distinct seasons.

The cackling goose was originally considered to be the same species or a subspecies of the Canada goose, but in July 2004, the American Ornithologists' Union's Committee on Classification and Nomenclature split them into two species, making the cackling goose into a full species with the scientific name Branta hutchinsii. The British Ornithologists' Union followed suit in June 2005. [9]

Cackling goose species of bird

The cackling goose is a North American bird of the genus Branta of black geese, which contains species with largely black plumage, distinguishing them from the grey Anser species.

The British Ornithologists' Union (BOU) aims to encourage the study of birds ("ornithology") in Britain, Europe and around the world, in order to understand their biology and to aid their conservation. The BOU was founded in 1858 by Professor Alfred Newton, Henry Baker Tristram and other scientists. Its quarterly journal, Ibis, has been published since 1859.

The AOU has divided the many subspecies between the two species. The subspecies of the Canada goose were listed as:

Subspecies taxonomic rank subordinate to species

In biological classification, the term subspecies refers to one of two or more populations of a species living in different subdivisions of the species' range and varying from one another by morphological characteristics. A single subspecies cannot be recognized independently: a species is either recognized as having no subspecies at all or at least two, including any that are extinct. The term is abbreviated subsp. in botany and bacteriology, ssp. in zoology. The plural is the same as the singular: subspecies.

The distinctions between the two geese have led to confusion and debate among ornithologists. This has been aggravated by the overlap between the small types of Canada goose and larger types of cackling goose. The old "lesser Canada geese" were believed to be a partly hybrid population, with the birds named B. c. taverneri considered a mixture of B. c. minima, B. c. occidentalis, and B. c. parvipes. The holotype specimen of taverneri is a straightforward large pale cackling goose however, and hence the taxon is still valid today and was renamed "Taverner's cackling goose".

In addition, the barnacle goose (B. leucopsis) was determined to be a derivative of the cackling goose lineage, whereas the Hawaiian goose (B. sandvicensis) originated from ancestral Canada geese. Thus, the species' distinctness is well evidenced, A recent proposed revision by Harold C. Hanson suggests splitting Canada and cackling goose into six species and 200 subspecies. The radical nature of this proposal has provoked surprise in some quarters; Richard Banks of the AOU urges caution before any of Hanson's proposals are accepted. [10]


Canada goose gosling sitting amongst its clutch members and parents, spotted at a municipal park in Waterloo, Ontario. The yellow plumage around the neck and head distinguishes the juvenile from grown adults. Canada Goose Gosling.jpg
Canada goose gosling sitting amongst its clutch members and parents, spotted at a municipal park in Waterloo, Ontario. The yellow plumage around the neck and head distinguishes the juvenile from grown adults.

The black head and neck with a white "chinstrap" distinguish the Canada goose from all other goose species, with the exception of the cackling goose and barnacle goose (the latter, however, has a black breast and grey rather than brownish body plumage). [11]

The seven subspecies of this bird vary widely in size and plumage details, but all are recognizable as Canada geese. Some of the smaller races can be hard to distinguish from the cackling goose, which slightly overlap in mass. However, most subspecies of the cackling goose (exclusive of Richardson's cackling goose, B. h. hutchinsii) are considerably smaller. The smallest cackling goose, B. h. minima, is scarcely larger than a mallard. In addition to the size difference, cackling geese also have a shorter neck and smaller bill, which can be useful when small Canada geese comingle with relatively large cackling geese. Of the "true geese" (i.e. the genera Anser , Branta or Chen ), the Canada goose is on average the largest living species, although some other species that are geese in name, if not of close relation to these genera, are on average heavier such as the spur-winged goose and Cape Barren goose.

Canada geese range from 75 to 110 cm (30 to 43 in) in length and have a 127–185 cm (50–73 in) wingspan. [12] Among standard measurements, the wing chord can range from 39 to 55 cm (15 to 22 in), the tarsus can range from 6.9 to 10.6 cm (2.7 to 4.2 in) and the bill can range from 4.1 to 6.8 cm (1.6 to 2.7 in). The largest subspecies is the B. c. maxima, or the giant Canada goose, and the smallest (with the separation of the cackling goose group) is B. c. parvipes, or the lesser Canada goose. [13] An exceptionally large male of race B. c. maxima, which rarely exceed 8 kg (18 lb), weighed 10.9 kg (24 lb) and had a wingspan of 2.24 m (7.3 ft). This specimen is the largest wild goose ever recorded of any species. [14]

The male Canada goose usually weighs 2.6–6.5 kg (5.7–14.3 lb), averaging amongst all subspecies 3.9 kg (8.6 lb). The female looks virtually identical, but is slightly lighter at 2.4–5.5 kg (5.3–12.1 lb), averaging amongst all subspecies 3.6 kg (7.9 lb), and generally 10% smaller in linear dimensions than the male counterparts. [15] The female also possesses a different, and less sonorous, honk than the male.

Distribution and habitat

On Spokane River, Washington State Geesespokaneriver.jpg
On Spokane River, Washington State
Flock in flight Canada Goose (Branta canadensis) (5).jpg
Flock in flight

This species is native to North America. It breeds in Canada and the northern United States in a wide range of habitats. The Great Lakes region maintains a very large population of Canada geese. Canada geese occur year-round in the southern part of their breeding range, including most of the eastern seaboard and the Pacific coast. Between California and South Carolina in the southern United States and northern Mexico, Canada geese are primarily present as migrants from further north during the winter. [16]

By the early 20th century, overhunting and loss of habitat in the late 19th century and early 20th century had resulted in a serious decline in the numbers of this bird in its native range. The giant Canada goose subspecies was believed to be extinct in the 1950s until, in 1962, a small flock was discovered wintering in Rochester, Minnesota, by Harold Hanson of the Illinois Natural History Survey. [17] In 1964, the Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center was built near Jamestown, North Dakota. Its first director, Harvey K. Nelson, talked Forrest Lee into leaving Minnesota to head the center's Canada goose production and restoration program. Forrest soon had 64 pens with 64 breeding pairs of screened, high-quality birds. The project involved private, state, and federal resources and relied on the expertise and cooperation of many individuals. By the end of 1981, more than 6,000 giant Canada geese had been released at 83 sites in 26 counties in North Dakota. [18] With improved game laws and habitat recreation and preservation programs, their populations have recovered in most of their range, although some local populations, especially of the subspecies B. c. occidentalis, may still be declining.[ citation needed ]

In recent years, Canada goose populations in some areas have grown substantially, so much so that many consider them pests for their droppings, bacteria in their droppings, noise, and confrontational behavior. This problem is partially due to the removal of natural predators and an abundance of safe, man-made bodies of water near food sources, such as those found on golf courses, in public parks and beaches, and in planned communities. Due in part to the interbreeding of various migratory subspecies with the introduced nonmigratory giant subspecies, Canada geese are frequently a year-around feature of such urban environments. [19]

Contrary to its normal migration routine, large flocks of Canada geese have established permanent residence in Esquimalt, British Columbia and British Columbia's Lower Mainland, on Chesapeake Bay, in Virginia's James River regions, and in the Triangle area of North Carolina (Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill), and nearby Hillsborough. Some Canada geese have taken up permanent residence as far south as Florida, in places such as retention ponds in apartment complexes. Large resident populations of Canada geese are also present in much of the San Francisco Bay area in Northern California. In 2015, the Ohio population of Canada geese was reported as roughly 130,000, with the number likely to continue increasing. Many of the geese, previously migratory, reportedly had become native, remaining in the state even in the summer. The increase was attributed to a lack of natural predators, an abundance of water, and plentiful grass in manicured lawns in urban areas. [20] Canada geese were eliminated in Ohio following the American Civil War, but were reintroduced in 1956 with 10 pairs. The population was estimated at 18,000 in 1979. The geese are considered protected, though a hunting season is allowed from September 1–15, with a daily bag limit of five. [21] The Ohio Department of Natural Resources recommends a number of non-lethal scare and hazing tactics for nuisance geese, but if such methods have been used without success, they may issue a permit which can be used from March 11 through August 31 to destroy nests, conduct a goose roundup or shoot geese. [22]

Outside North America


Nesting in Wales At home in Llyn Coed Y Dinas - - 781969.jpg
Nesting in Wales
Approaching to beg for food in a Manchester park, a learned behavior Canada Geese, Heaton Park - - 490384.jpg
Approaching to beg for food in a Manchester park, a learned behavior

Canada geese have reached Northern Europe naturally, as has been proved by ringing recoveries. The birds include those of the subspecies B. c. parvipes, and possibly others. These geese are also found naturally on the Kamchatka Peninsula in eastern Siberia, and eastern China.[ citation needed ]

Canada geese have also been introduced in Europe, and had established populations in Great Britain in the middle of the eighteenth century, [23] Ireland, the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Germany, Scandinavia, and Finland. Most European populations are not migratory, but those in more northerly parts of Sweden and Finland migrate to the North Sea and Baltic coasts. [24] Semitame feral birds are common in parks, and have become a pest in some areas. In the early 17th century, explorer Samuel de Champlain sent several pairs of geese to France as a present for King Louis XIII. The geese were first introduced in Britain in the late 17th century as an addition to King James II's waterfowl collection in St. James's Park. They were introduced in Germany and Scandinavia during the 20th century, starting in Sweden in 1929. In Britain, they were spread by hunters, but remained uncommon until the mid-20th century. Their population grew from 2200 to 4000 birds in 1953 to an estimated 82,000 in 1999, as changing agricultural practices and urban growth provided new habitat. European birds are mostly descended from the subspecies B. c. canadensis, likely with some contributions from the subspecies B. c. maxima. [25]

New Zealand

Canada geese were introduced as a game bird into New Zealand in 1905. They have become a problem in some areas by fouling pastures and damaging crops. They were protected under the Wildlife Act 1953 and the population was managed by Fish and Game New Zealand, which culled excessive bird numbers. In 2011, the government removed the protection status, allowing anyone to kill the birds. [26]


Bathing, Oxfordshire, England Canada goose (branta canadensis) cleaning feathers.jpg
Bathing, Oxfordshire, England
Flying, New Jersey Branta canadensis -near Oceanville, New Jersey, USA -flying-8.jpg
Flying, New Jersey
Male goose carefully watches nearby humans in Winnipeg Canada Goose close up.jpg
Male goose carefully watches nearby humans in Winnipeg

Like most geese, the Canada goose is naturally migratory with the wintering range being most of the United States. The calls overhead from large groups of Canada geese flying in V-shaped formation signal the transitions into spring and autumn. In some areas, migration routes have changed due to changes in habitat and food sources. In mild climates from south western British Columbia to California to the Great Lakes, some of the population has become nonmigratory due to adequate winter food supply and a lack of former predators.[ citation needed ] [27]

Males exhibit agonistic behavior both on and off breeding and nesting grounds. This behavior rarely involves interspecific killing. One documented case involved a male defending his nest from a brant goose that wandered into the area; the following attack lasted for one hour until the death of the brant. The cause of death was suffocation or drowning in mud as a direct result of the Canada goose's pecking the head of the brant into the mud. Researchers attributed it to high hormone levels and the brant's inability to leave the nesting area. [28]


Canada geese are primarily herbivores, [16] although they sometimes eat small insects and fish. [29] Their diet includes green vegetation and grains. The Canada goose eats a variety of grasses when on land. It feeds by grasping a blade of grass with the bill, then tearing it with a jerk of the head. The Canada goose also eats beans and grains such as wheat, rice, and corn when they are available. In the water, it feeds from aquatic plants by sliding its bill at the bottom of the body of water. It also feeds on aquatic plant-like algae, such as seaweeds. [14] In urban areas, it is also known to pick food out of garbage bins. They are also sometimes hand-fed a variety of grains and other foods by humans in parks.


Eggs, collection Museum Wiesbaden, Germany Branta canadensis MWNH 1968.JPG
Eggs, collection Museum Wiesbaden, Germany
Goslings Goslings-Hawrelak-Park-Edmonton-Alberta-Canada-01-A.jpg
Geese and goslings in an English canal, showing formation Geese and goslings swim in V-formation - - 429191.jpg
Geese and goslings in an English canal, showing formation

During the second year of their lives, Canada geese find a mate. They are monogamous, and most couples stay together all of their lives. If one dies, the other may find a new mate. The female lays from two to nine eggs with an average of five, and both parents protect the nest while the eggs incubate, but the female spends more time at the nest than the male. [14]

Its nest is usually located in an elevated area near water such as streams, lakes, ponds, and sometimes on a beaver lodge. Its eggs are laid in a shallow depression lined with plant material and down.

The incubation period, in which the female incubates while the male remains nearby, lasts for 24–32 days after laying. Canada Geese can respond to external climatic factors by adjusting their laying data to spring maximum temperatures, which may benefit their nesting success. [30]

As the annual summer molt also takes place during the breeding season, the adults lose their flight feathers for 20–40 days, regaining flight about the same time as their goslings start to fly. [31]

As soon as the goslings hatch, they are immediately capable of walking, swimming, and finding their own food (a diet similar to the adult geese). Parents are often seen leading their goslings in a line, usually with one adult at the front, and the other at the back. While protecting their goslings, parents often violently chase away nearby creatures, from small blackbirds to lone humans who approach, after warning them by giving off a hissing sound and then attack with bites and slaps of the wings if the threat does not retreat or has seized a gosling. Canada geese are especially protective animals, and will sometimes attack any animal nearing its territory or offspring, including humans. Most of the species that prey on eggs also take a gosling. Although parents are hostile to unfamiliar geese, they may form groups of a number of goslings and a few adults, called crèches.

The offspring enter the fledgling stage any time from 6 to 9 weeks of age. They do not leave their parents until after the spring migration, when they return to their birthplace. [16]


Resting in a pond during spring migration, Ottawa, Ontario Canada Geese in pond.jpg
Resting in a pond during spring migration, Ottawa, Ontario

Canada geese are known for their seasonal migrations. Most Canada geese have staging or resting areas where they join up with others. Their autumn migration can be seen from September to the beginning of November.[ citation needed ] [32] The early migrants have a tendency to spend less time at rest stops and go through the migration much faster. The later birds usually spend more time at rest stops. Some geese return to the same nesting ground year after year and lay eggs with their mate, raising them in the same way each year. This is recorded from the many tagged geese which frequent the East Coast.

Canada geese fly in a distinctive V-shaped flight formation, with an altitude of 1 km (3,000 feet) for migration flight. The maximum flight ceiling of Canada geese is unknown, but they have been reported at 9 km (29,000 feet). [33]

Low flyover by five Canada geese

Flying in the V formation has been the subject of study by researchers. The front position is rotated since flying in front consumes the most energy. Canada geese leave the winter grounds more quickly than the summer grounds. Elevated thyroid hormones, such as T3 and T4, have been measured in geese just after a big migration. This is believed because of the long days of flying in migration the thyroid gland sends out more T4 which help the body cope with the longer journey. The increased T4 levels are also associated with increased muscle mass (hypertrophy) of the breast muscle, also because of the longer time spent flying. It is believed that the body sends out more T4 to help the goose's body with this long task by speeding up the metabolism and lowering the temperature at which the muscles work. [34] Also, other studies show levels of stress hormones such as corticosterone rise dramatically in these birds during and after a migration. [35]


The lifespan in the wild of geese that survive to adulthood ranges from 10 to 24 years. [14] The British longevity record is held by a specimen tagged as a nestling, which was observed alive at the University of York at the age of 31. [36] [37]


Canada geese instinctively nest on higher ground near water. This female is nesting on a beaver lodge. Canada Geese Nesting on Beaver Lodge, Crawford County, PA 1960.jpg
Canada geese instinctively nest on higher ground near water. This female is nesting on a beaver lodge.

Known predators of eggs and goslings include coyotes, [38] Arctic foxes (Vulpes lagopus), northern raccoons (Procyon lotor), red foxes (Vulpes vulpes), large gulls (Larus species), common ravens (Corvus corax), American crows (Corvus brachyrhynchos), carrion crows (in Europe, Corvus corone) and both brown (Ursus arctos) and American black bears (Ursus americanus). [16] [39] [40] [41] [42]

Once they reach adulthood, due to their large size and often aggressive behavior, Canada geese are rarely preyed on, although prior injury may make them more vulnerable to natural predators. [43] Beyond humans, adults can be taken by coyotes [44] and grey wolves (Canis lupus). [45] Avian predators that are known to kill adults, as well as young geese, include snowy owls (Bubo scandiacus), golden eagles (Aquila chrysaetos) and bald eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) and, though rarely on large adult geese, great horned owls (Bubo virginianus), peregrine falcons (Falco peregrinus), and gyrfalcons (Falco rusticolus). [16] [41] Adults are quite vigorous at displacing potential predators from the nest site, with predator prevention usually falling to the larger male of the pair. [46] [47] [48] Males usually attempt to draw attention of approaching predators and toll (mob terrestrial predators without physical contact) often in accompaniment with males of other goose species. Eagles of both species frequently cause geese to fly off en masse from some distance, though in other instances, geese may seem unconcerned at perched bald eagles nearby, seemingly only reacting if the eagle is displaying active hunting behavior. [49] Canada geese are quite wary of humans where they are regularly hunted and killed, but can otherwise become habituated to fearlessness towards humans, especially where they are fed by them. [50] This often leads to the geese becoming overly aggressive towards humans, and large groups of the birds may be considered a nuisance if they are causing persistent issues to humans and other animals in the surrounding area.


Salinity plays a role in the growth and development of goslings. Moderate to high salinity concentrations without fresh water results in slower development, growth, and saline-induced mortality. Goslings are susceptible to saline-induced mortality before their nasal salt glands become functional, with the majority occurring before the sixth day of life. [51]


Canada geese are susceptible to avian bird flus, such as H5N1. A study carried out using the HPAI virus, a H5N1 virus, found that the geese were susceptible to the virus. This proved useful for monitoring the spread of the virus through the high mortality of infected birds. Prior exposure to other viruses may result in some resistance to H5N1. [52]

Relationship with humans

Family in builders' yard, Salem, Oregon: The mother goose had built a nest on an aggregate pile. Geese near East Salem Compound (5662820374).jpg
Family in builders' yard, Salem, Oregon: The mother goose had built a nest on an aggregate pile.
Roosting in a parking lot ParkingLotMotherCanadaGoose.jpg
Roosting in a parking lot

In North America, nonmigratory Canada goose populations have been on the rise. The species is frequently found on golf courses, parking lots, and urban parks, which would have previously hosted only migratory geese on rare occasions. Owing to its adaptability to human-altered areas, it has become one of the most common waterfowl species in North America. In many areas, nonmigratory Canada geese are now regarded as pests by humans. They are suspected of being a cause of an increase in high fecal coliforms at beaches. [53] An extended hunting season, deploying noise makers, and hazing by dogs have been used in an attempt to disrupt suspect flocks. [54] A goal of conservationists has been to focus hunting on the nonmigratory populations (which tend to be larger and more of a nuisance) as opposed to migratory flocks showing natural behavior, which may be rarer.

Since 1999, the United States Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services agency has been engaged in lethal culls of Canada geese primarily in urban or densely populated areas. The agency responds to municipalities or private land owners, such as golf courses, which find the geese obtrusive or object to their waste. [55] Addling goose eggs and destroying nests are promoted as humane population control methods. [56] Flocks of Canada goose can also be captured during moult and this method of culling is used to control invasive populations. [57]

Canada geese are protected from hunting and capture outside of designated hunting seasons in the United States by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, [58] and in Canada under the Migratory Birds Convention Act. [59] In both countries, commercial transactions such as buying or trading are mostly prohibited and the possession, hunting, and interfering with the activity of the animals are subject to restrictions. [60] [61] In the UK, as with native bird species, the nests and eggs of Canada geese are fully protected by law, except when their removal has been specifically licensed, and shooting is generally permitted only during the defined open season. [62] [63] [64]

Geese have a tendency to attack humans when they feel themselves or their goslings to be threatened. First, the geese stand erect, spread their wings, and produce a hissing sound. Next, the geese charge. They may then bite or attack with their wings. [65]

Aircraft strikes

Canada geese have been implicated in a number of bird strikes by aircraft. Their large size and tendency to fly in flocks may exacerbate their impact. In the United States, the Canada goose is the second-most damaging bird strike to airplanes, with the most damaging being turkey vultures. [66] Canada geese can cause fatal crashes when they strike an aircraft's engine. The FAA has reported 1,772 known civil aircraft strikes within the United States between 1990-2018. [67] The total cost of these bird strikes to general and commercial aviation has been reported to exceed $130 million. [68]

In 1995, a U.S. Air Force E-3 Sentry aircraft at Elmendorf AFB, Alaska, struck a flock of Canada geese on takeoff, losing power in both port side engines. It crashed 2 mi (3.2 km) from the runway, killing all 24 crew members. The accident sparked efforts to avoid such events, including habitat modification, aversion tactics, herding and relocation, and culling of flocks. [69] [70] [71] In 2009, a collision with a flock of migratory Canada geese resulted in US Airways Flight 1549 suffering a total power loss after takeoff causing the crew of the aircraft to land the plane on the Hudson River with no loss of human life. [72] [73] [74]


As a large, common wild bird, the Canada goose is a common target of hunters, especially in its native range. Drake Larsen, a researcher in sustainable agriculture at Iowa State University, described them to Atlantic magazine as "so yummy...good, lean, rich meat. I find they are similar to a good cut of beef." [75] The British Trust for Ornithology, however, has described them as "reputedly amongst the most inedible of birds." The US goose harvest for 2013–14 reported over 1.3 million geese taken. [76] Canada geese are rarely farmed, and sale of wild Canada goose meat is rare due to regulation, and slaughterhouses' lack of experience with wild birds. Geese culled near New York airports have been donated to food banks in Pennsylvania. As of 2011, the sale of wild Canada goose meat was not permitted in the UK; some landowners have lobbied for this ban to be withdrawn to allow them income from sale of game meat. [77]


In 2000, the North American population for the geese was estimated to be between 4 million and 5 million birds. [78] A 20-year study from 1983 to 2003 in Wichita, Kansas, found the size of the winter Canada goose population within the city limits increase from 1,600 to over 18,000 birds. [78]

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The nene, also known as nēnē and Hawaiian goose, is a species of bird endemic to the Hawaiian Islands. The official bird of the state of Hawaiʻi, the nene is exclusively found in the wild on the islands of Oahu, Maui, Kauaʻi, Molokai, and Hawaiʻi.

Greylag goose Species of bird

The greylag goose is a species of large goose in the waterfowl family Anatidae and the type species of the genus Anser. It has mottled and barred grey and white plumage and an orange beak and pink legs. A large bird, it measures between 74 and 91 centimetres in length, with an average weight of 3.3 kilograms (7.3 lb). Its distribution is widespread, with birds from the north of its range in Europe and Asia migrating southwards to spend the winter in warmer places. It is the type species of the genus Anser and is the ancestor of the domestic goose, having been domesticated at least as early as 1360 BC. The genus name is from anser, the Latin for "goose".

Greater white-fronted goose species of bird

The greater white-fronted goose is a species of goose related to the smaller lesser white-fronted goose. It is named for the patch of white feathers bordering the base of its bill, in fact albifrons comes from the Latin albus "white" and frons" forehead ". In Europe it has been known as the "white-fronted goose"; in North America it is known as the greater white-fronted goose, and this name is also increasingly adopted internationally. Even more distinctive are the salt-and-pepper markings on the breast of adult birds, which is why the goose is colloquially called the "specklebelly" in North America.

Snow goose species of bird

The snow goose, consisting of both a white morph and dark morph, is a North American species of goose commonly collectively referred to as "light geese". Its name derives from the typically white plumage. Many taxonomic authorities placed this species and the other "white geese" in the genus Chen. Most authorities now follow the traditional treatment of placing these species in the "gray goose" genus Anser. The scientific name is from the Latin anser, "goose", and caerulescens, "bluish", derived from caeruleus , "dark blue".

Barnacle goose species of bird

The barnacle goose belongs to the genus Branta of black geese, which contains species with largely black plumage, distinguishing them from the grey Anser species. Despite its superficial similarity to the brant goose, genetic analysis has shown it is an eastern derivative of the cackling goose lineage.

Red-breasted goose species of bird

The red-breasted goose is a brightly marked species of goose in the genus Branta from Eurasia. It is currently classified as vulnerable by the IUCN.

Emperor goose species of bird

The emperor goose, also known as the beach goose or the painted goose, is a waterfowl species in the family Anatidae, which contains the ducks, geese, and swans. It is blue-gray in color as an adult and grows to 66–71 centimetres (26–28 in) in length. Adults have a black chin and throat, a pink bill, yellow-orange legs, and a white head, which often turns reddish-brown in summer. In the winter, the emperor goose lives in mudflats and coasts in Alaska and occasionally Canada and the contiguous United States. In the summer, it migrates northerly several hundred miles to arctic and sub-arctic climates, where older specimens breed monogamously. Nests are constructed in holes and built up with vegetation and feathers. Eggs hatch in late June and early July, and goslings leave the nest the day they hatch. The species is an omnivore, and makes vocalizations that are more nasal than those of other geese. Listed as near threatened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the species' population is declining due to threats such as pollution, hunting, and climate change.

Sandhill crane species of bird

The sandhill crane is a species of large crane of North America and extreme northeastern Siberia. The common name of this bird refers to habitat like that at the Platte River, on the edge of Nebraska's Sandhills on the American Plains. This is the most important stopover area for the nominotypical subspecies, the lesser sandhill crane, with up to 450,000 of these birds migrating through annually.

Spur-winged goose species of bird

The spur-winged goose is a large bird in the family Anatidae, related to the geese and the shelducks, but distinct from both of these in a number of anatomical features, and therefore treated in its own subfamily, the Plectropterinae. It occurs in wetlands throughout sub-Saharan Africa.

Rosss goose species of bird

Ross's goose is a white goose with black wingtips and a relatively short neck, and is the smallest of the three light geese that breed in North America. It is similar in appearance to a white-phase snow goose, but about 40% smaller. Other differences from the snow goose are that the bill is smaller in proportion to its body and lacks "black lips". The dark phase is extremely rare.

Brant (goose) species of goose

The brant, or brent goose, is a species of goose of the genus Branta. The black brant is a pacific North American subspecies.

Ankeny National Wildlife Refuge

Ankeny National Wildlife Refuge is located in the fertile Willamette Valley of northwestern Oregon, 12 miles (19 km) south of Salem. The valley was once a rich mix of wildlife habitats. Valley wetlands were once extensive, with meandering stream channels and vast seasonal marshes. Today, the valley is a mix of farmland and growing cities, with few areas remaining for wildlife.

Baskett Slough National Wildlife Refuge protected area

Baskett Slough National Wildlife Refuge is located in northwestern Oregon, 10 miles (16 km) west of Salem in Polk County. Situated in open farmland near the eastern foothills of the Oregon Coast Range with the broad Willamette Valley and the Cascade Range to the east, elevations range from 185 to 414 feet MSL. The Willamette Valley, with its mild, rainy winter climate, is an ideal environment for wintering waterfowl. The valley was once a rich mix of wildlife habitats with extensive wetlands, meandering stream channels and vast seasonal marshes. Today, the valley is a mix of farmland and growing cities, with few areas remaining for wildlife. The Refuge consists of 1,173 acres (4.75 km²) of cropland, which provide forage for wintering geese, 300 acres (1.2 km²) of forests, 550 acres (2.2 km²) of grasslands, and 500 acres (2.0 km²) of shallow water seasonal wetlands and 35 acres (0.14 km²) of permanent open water. In 1965, Baskett Slough National Wildlife Refuge was created to help ensure some of the original habitat remained for species preservation. The refuge is managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, an agency of the U.S. Department of the Interior.

Aleutian cackling goose subspecies of bird

The Aleutian cackling goose, formerly known as the Aleutian Canada goose, is small subspecies of cackling goose averaging 1700 to 2100 grams in weight. It was one of 122 species of animals, birds, and fish first documented for science by the Lewis and Clark Expedition.

The San Luis National Wildlife Refuge Complex is located in the northern San Joaquin Valley, within Merced County and Stanislaus County of California. The complex, with four federal National Wildlife Refuges, is managed by the U.S Fish & Wildlife Service.

The dusky Canada goose is a subspecies of the Canada goose, along with six other subspecies. They are the darkest variant, similar to the Pacific cackling goose. Tagged dusky geese have red bands with white letters on them attached to their neck. They represent one of the smallest populations of Canada goose in the Pacific Northwest.

Giant Canada goose

The giant Canada goose is the largest subspecies of Canada goose, weighing in at 5 kg. It is found in central North America. These geese were at one point considered extinct, but were later rediscovered.

The Moffitt's Canada goose, also known as the western Canada goose, is a common bird west of the Rocky Mountains. It is a subspecies of the Canada goose, as well as six other subspecies. It is sometimes mistaken for the giant Canada goose. If a goose has a neck collar, then it will be white and black. If the goose has a leg band, then it will be white or green.

Small cackling goose

The small cackling goose, also known as the Ridgway's goose, is the smallest subspecies of cackling goose and the smallest variant of white-cheeked goose.


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