Canada Goose - Branta canadensis

Length 2.1-3.8 ft (63.5-114.3 cm)
Wingspan 3.6-5.0 ft (109.2-152.4 cm)
Weight 9.8 lb (4445.2 g)
Clutch Size 4-7
Chicks at birth Precocial
IUCN Conservation Status Least Concern
Continents:NA, EU

The Canada Goose is predominately a North American bird but they occasionally migrate to northern Europe and they has been imported to Britain and New Zealand. Originally, it was believed that there were eleven subspecies of Canada Geese. In 2004 the American Ornithologist's Union split the Canada Goose into two species: The Canada Goose and the Cackling Goose. The Canada Goose is now made up of seven subspecies. The size and plumage coloration varies between the subspecies.

Canada Geese heads are black with a white chin-strap, the neck is black, and their body varies from light tan to brown with a white undertail. The bill is black, the iris dark, and the legs and feet dark gray to black. Sexes look similar but the female is slightly smaller. Juvenile plumage is duller.

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Diet: They dabble in water for aquatic vegetation or graze in fields and large lawns for grain and grass.

Courtship: Canada Geese usually mate for life.

Nesting: Nests are either built singly or in colonies. Nests are usually elevated so visibility is good. The female does most of the nest building. The male's role is to guard her and the nest. The protection actions include head pumping, an opened bill with tongue raised (see picture below), hissing, honking, and vibrating neck feathers. The nests are built on the ground and are made up of vegetation lined with down and feathers. Eggs are creamy white and the incubation period is 25-28 days.

Habitat and Range: They are mainly a North American bird that breeds in northern Canada and Alaska. They winter in the rest of the U.S. and into Canada. They prefer being near water (rivers, lakes, ponds, etc.) and can be found in many urban setting as well as fields. They love sport fields and parks and can be quite a pest because of their aggressive behavior and the amount of waste they produce.

Vocalization: Raucous honking, hissing.

Plumage/Molt: No alternate plumage.

Migration: They are natural migrants but there are quite a few populations that do not migrate. The geese that breed in northern Canada and Alaska migrate as far south as northern Mexico. While flying in groups, they fly in a 'V' formation.

Tongue/feet: Dark-gray/black legs and feet.


  • The Free Encyclopedia, Accessed February, 2014
  • del Hoyo, Josep, Elliott, Andrew, Sargatal, Jordi,, Handbook of the Birds of the World,Lynx Edicions

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