Animal of the Issue: Canada Goose

The Canada Goose is known for its intense protectiveness over its goslings. Photo Credit / Briana Magistro
The Canada Goose is known for its intense protectiveness over its goslings. Photo Credit / Briana Magistro
The Canada Goose is known for its intense protectiveness over its goslings.
Photo Credit / Briana Magistro


SC Staff Writer

One of the more distinguishable birds found in North America is the Canada Goose. During the winter, these tall birds can usually be seen near lakes and ponds, and many people have even been chased by them!

The Canada Goose sports a long, slender black neck and head with a large grayish-brown body. Its wingspan can be up to five feet across.

Goslings, or baby geese, look very similar to ducklings in that they are yellow and brown.

The rate at which young geese grow is dependent upon the salinity of the water that they live in during their early months.

The saltier the water is, the slower the goslings grow.

This forces geese to find fresher waters, which can sometimes mean landing in a man-made pond or reservoir.

Being omnivorous, Canada Geese typically feed on grasses and aquatic plants, but they will sometimes splurge on insects or small fish.

The Canada Goose gets its name from its home in Canada. During the spring and summer months, these geese are abundant across Canada.

The spring and summer months are the geese’s breeding time.

When being around two years of age, a young goose will find its mate for life. This couple will meet up and breed every year for the rest of their lives.

The pair will sometimes even migrate together. Canada Geese fly south for the winter; however, their south is not exactly our south.

They typically only fly as far south as mid-US, but have been documented further south on occasion. Some will even fly to Britain and Iceland.

Flocks migrate in a V-shaped formation. The geese take turns being the lead. This V-shape allows the birds to uses as little energy as possible to fly.

The wings from the front goose make a small updraft that is picked up by the goose behind it, and so on.

This formation has been tested in the modern air industry to save gas and lower airfare.

At the beginning of the 1900s, the geese’s natural habitat was being industrialized and the goose was all but extinct.

However, around 1950, a flock was discovered migrating to Minnesota.

Harold Hanson saved the species by rescuing and mating the flock. Within ten years, the population was back up to around 6,000 birds.

Today, the population is estimated to be about four million birds.

Why do geese get a bad reputation of being aggressive?

Geese and other waterfowl, such as swans, are very protective of their goslings.

As both the goose population and loss of habitat due to human development grow, Canada Geese are forced to migrate into urban settings during the winter.

Humans see these geese as nuisances and often destroy eggs and nests.

The male goose tends to keep guard around the nest, while the female will be at the nest itself.

If a goose feels its goslings are threatened, it will stand tall, spread its wings, and charge.

As ferocious as they sound, geese can also be quite docile around people when it is not mating season.

If you’d like to see the Canada Goose for yourself, try visiting a quiet park with a large lake or pond in the winter.

You may also see the large V-shaped flock flying overhead in late fall, or hear their distinct “honking” sound when nearby.

Hopefully you will get to see these beautiful creatures sometime this winter!

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