172. Canada Goose. Branta Canadensis Canadensis canada goose branta canadensis

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172. Canada Goose. Branta Canadensis Canadensis




Description

This section is from the book "The Bird Book", by Chester A. Reed. Also available from Amazon: The Bird Book.

172. Canada Goose. Branta Canadensis Canadensis

Range. - The whole of North America, breeding from northern United States northward, and wintering in the southern parts of the United States.

This species is the most widely known of American Geese and is the most abundant. Its familiar "honk" has long been regarded as the signal of the coming of spring, and the familiar V-shaped formation in which the flocks migrate is always an object of interest to everyone. With the exception of in North Dakota and Minnesota, they breed chiefly north of the United States. They construct quite a large nest of weeds and grass, and warmly line it with down and feathers. They lay from four to nine eggs of a buff or drab color. Size about 3.50 x 2.50. Data. - Ellingsars Lake, North Dakota, May 18, 1896. Five eggs. Nest on an island in the lake, constructed of weeds and trash, and lined with a few feathers. Collector, Edwin S. Bryant.

Egg of Canada Goose Buffy drab 112

Egg of Canada Goose - Buffy drab 112.

172a. Hutchins Goose. Branta Canadensis Hutchinsi

This sub-species is like the preceding except that it is smaller, thirty inches in length. It is a western variety, breeding in Alaska and along the Arctic coast and wintering to southern California. Its breeding habits, nests and eggs are the same as the common goose except that the eggs are smaller. Sibe 3.00 x 2.05.

172b. White-Cheeked Goose. Branta Canadensis Occidentalis

This bird is about the same size as the Canada Goose and the plumage is very similar except that the black sometimes extends on the throat, thereby isolating the white cheek patches, and there is a white collar below the back of the neck. It is a western species, breeding in Alaska and wintering along the Pacific coast of the United States. Its nesting habits and eggs are same as those of the Canada Goose except that the latter are a trifle smaller.

172c. Cackling Goose. Branta Canadensis Minima

This bird is really a miniature of the Canada Goose, being but twenty-four inches in length. It breeds in Alaska and along the Arctic coast and migrates into the western parts of the United States. They are abundant birds in their breeding range, where they place their nests upon the shores of ponds, or on islands in inland rivers or lakes. The nests are made of weeds and grasses, lined with down. The eggs which are buff colored, number from four to nine and are laid during June and July. Size 2.30 x 1.95.

Canada Goose Cackling Goose

Canada Goose. Cackling Goose.

172c Cackling Goose Branta Canadensis Minima 305 CANADA GEESE. LAMELLIROSTRAL SWIMMERS

CANADA GEESE. LAMELLIROSTRAL SWIMMERS.

 

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canada goose branta canadensis

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Photo: Benjamin Schelling/Audubon Photography Awards

Canada Goose

Branta canadensis

This big "Honker" is among our best-known waterfowl. In many regions, flights of Canada Geese passing over in V-formation -- northbound in spring, southbound in fall -- are universally recognized as signs of the changing seasons. Once considered a symbol of wilderness, this goose has adapted well to civilization, nesting around park ponds and golf courses; in a few places, it has even become something of a nuisance. Local forms vary greatly in size, and the smallest ones are now regarded as a separate species, Cackling Goose.
Conservation status Species as a whole probably still increasing: responds well to management on wildlife refuges, and has become a common resident of city lakes and parks in many areas. Some distinctive populations are scarce or declining.
Family Ducks and Geese
Habitat Lakes, ponds, bays, marshes, fields. Very diverse, using different habitats in different regions; always nests near water, winters where feeding areas are within commuting distance of water. Nesting habitats include tundra, fresh marshes, salt marshes, lakes in wooded country. Often feeds in open fields, especially in winter. In recent years, also resident in city parks, suburban ponds.
This big "Honker" is among our best-known waterfowl. In many regions, flights of Canada Geese passing over in V-formation -- northbound in spring, southbound in fall -- are universally recognized as signs of the changing seasons. Once considered a symbol of wilderness, this goose has adapted well to civilization, nesting around park ponds and golf courses; in a few places, it has even become something of a nuisance. Local forms vary greatly in size, and the smallest ones are now regarded as a separate species, Cackling Goose.
Photo Gallery
  • adult
  • adult male and female with goslings
  • adult
  • adult
  • adults
  • adults
Feeding Behavior

forages mostly by grazing while walking on land; also feeds in water, submerging head and neck, sometimes up-ending. Feeds in flocks at most seasons.


Eggs

4-7, sometimes 2-11. White, becoming nest-stained. Incubation is by female, 25-28 days; male stands guard nearby. Young: Parents lead young from nest 1-2 days after hatching. Young are tended by both parents, but feed themselves. Age at first flight varies, usually 7-9 weeks, tending to be longer in the largest forms.


Young

Parents lead young from nest 1-2 days after hatching. Young are tended by both parents, but feed themselves. Age at first flight varies, usually 7-9 weeks, tending to be longer in the largest forms.

Diet

almost entirely plant material. Feeds on very wide variety of plants. Eats stems and shoots of grasses, sedges, aquatic plants, also seeds and berries; consumes many cultivated grains (especially on refuges, where crops planted for geese). Occasionally eats some insects, mollusks, crustaceans, sometimes small fish.


Nesting

May mate for life. Male defends territory with displays, including lowering head almost to ground with bill slightly raised and open, hissing; also pumps head up and down while standing. Nest site (chosen by female) is usually on slightly elevated dry ground near water, with good visibility. Much variation; may nest on cliff ledges, on muskrat houses, in trees, on artificial platforms. Nest (built by female) is slight depression with shallow bowl of sticks, grass, weeds, moss, lined with down.

Illustration © David Allen Sibley.
Learn more about these drawings.

Text © Kenn Kaufman, adapted from
Lives of North American Birds

Migration

Historically, each local population followed rigid migratory path, with traditional stopovers and wintering areas. Today many geese in urban areas and on refuges are permanent residents. Other populations have changed routes or wintering areas as habitats have changed.

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Migration

Historically, each local population followed rigid migratory path, with traditional stopovers and wintering areas. Today many geese in urban areas and on refuges are permanent residents. Other populations have changed routes or wintering areas as habitats have changed.

  • All Seasons - Common
  • All Seasons - Uncommon
  • Breeding - Common
  • Breeding - Uncommon
  • Winter - Common
  • Winter - Uncommon
  • Migration - Common
  • Migration - Uncommon
Songs and Calls
Rich musical honking.
  • honking of several geese
  • pair flying overhead
  • excited pair taking flight
  • pair cavorting near nest
  • large flock flying over
  • whirring sounds of goslings
  • adult alarm hisses & barks
Audio © Lang Elliott, Bob McGuire, Kevin Colver, Martyn Stewart and others.
Learn more about this sound collection.


Article

Section

Canada Goose

Canada GooseGiant Canada geese (Branta canadensis maxima) were common birds in the upper Midwest before the arrival of the white man. Unregulated hunting and wetland drainage reduced the number of giant Canadas to the point where they were thought to be extinct. In 1962, Dr. Harold Hanson of the Illinois Natural History Survey concluded that the geese that wintered at Rochester, Minnesota, were definitely giant Canada geese. Several other small remnant flocks were identified following the discovery in Minnesota. Many conservation agencies have worked to re-establish giant Canadas in their original breeding range. Success has been good and flocks are now well-established throughout the Midwest. Indiana has thriving concentrations of resident geese in several areas and the birds may nest in every county of the state. Major populations occur in the Indianapolis and Fort Wayne metropolitan areas, on coal company lands in southwestern Indiana and on many state Fish and Wildlife areas.

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS

Giant Canada geese are the largest of the 11 subspecies of Canada geese. Some males reach weights exceeding 20 pounds, but the average weights are 12 lbs., 8 oz. for adult males and 12 lbs., 2 oz. for adult females. Giant Canada geese tend to be large, have light-colored breast feathers, a white check patch, white flecks on their heads, a longer bill and greater leg length than other races of Canada geese.

BREEDING

Canada geese usually mate for life. When a pair is broken apart, a new mate is chosen. Mates are normally selected when the birds are two years old, but nesting generally does not occur until they are three years old. Canada geese lay an average of five eggs per clutch; if the nest is destroyed before incubation has begun, the goose may renest. The eggs hatch after the female has incubated them for 25-30 days. Once the eggs hatch, both parents care for the young. Adults take good care of the young and are extremely defensive when danger threatens. In areas where several pairs and their broods are located close together, pairs and broods may join forming “gang broods.” The goslings are capable of flight about 71 days after hatching. The family groups stay together well into the winter.

FOOD HABITS

Geese are grazers. They eat large quantities of grasses and forbs in the spring and summer. As the weather turns cooler in the fall, grain, especially corn, becomes a major part of their diet.

POPULATION STATUS

Giant Canada geese were common nesters in the Grand Kankakee River marsh before it was drained for agricultural purposes. Remnants of live decoy flocks which were preserved by a few individuals were the source of most of the geese released throughout Indiana. The reestablishment began in 1935. Today, Canada geese are common in Indiana, providing many viewing and hunting opportunities.

HUNTING

Canada goose hunting is a traditional sport. Blinds, pits, decoys, retrieving dogs, marshes, corn stubble fields, goose calls, magnum shotguns, frosty dawns, sleet, snow and good friends are all a part of it. Hunters take from 15,000 to 20,000 geese annually in Indiana.

ATTRACTING NESTING GEESE

If Canada geese are present in an area, they can often be attracted to nest on a particular pond, lake or marsh, if the owner is willing to put forth some effort. The preferred nesting site is an island. Islands which are not disturbed during nesting season frequently attract nesting pairs. When building earthen islands is impractical, floating platforms can be anchored in the pond to serve as artificial islands. Other types of nesting structure can be used. Hay-filled, elevated tubs, are excellent goose nesting sites which have the advantage of being nearly predator-proof. With all types of nesting sites, it is important that the birds are not disturbed during the nesting period. When considering attracting geese to a pond or lake, it is important to realize that sometimes these birds can cause problems. Problems are especially prevalent on developed lakes. In doing so, they can inflict considerable pain. As the population of geese increases so does the potential for problems. Canada geese can ruin meticulously manicured lawns with their grazing activities and swimming areas can sometimes be seriously degraded when geese leave their droppings scattered about. In addition, giant Canadas are aggressive during the nesting season and will forcefully defend their territory against all intruders. Because of such potential problems, efforts to attract geese should be made in only nonresidential areas. For ideas about problem Canada geese, see Controlling Nuisance Geese.

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