Migratory Species in Focus: Canada Goose (Branta Canadensis)

Migratory Species in Focus:

Canada Goose (Branta Canadensis)

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Primarily an herbivore, the Canada Goose is a water bird native to North America. It has a black head, long black neck, white cheeks, a brown body and webbed feet. It is often seen in flight moving in pairs or flocks. Flocks often assume the “V” formation when migrating in the fall season. Migration begins when the soil starts to freeze on their breeding grounds. Breeding happens from April to May and the female goose will lay approximately 2-10 eggs with goslings hatching about 28-30 days later. As the goslings grow, they will stay with their parents for a full year at a time and will return with them the following year, after their migration.

*Special Note:

  • Due to over-hunting and loss of habitat in the early 1900’s, the Canada Goose was thought to be extinct by 1950. In 1962, a small migrating flock was discovered in Rochester, Minnesota. With help from the Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center, by 1981 the species had made its come back.
  • Some studies indicate that their population has doubled since 1975. The large influx of its species has developed some negative effects for the territories that it resides. The nuisance of their droppings, bacteria in the droppings, noises and confrontational behavior are creating safety concerns and unsavory recreational facilities;
  • The Canadian Wildlife Service runs a band program that monitors more than 3,000 geese each year to support decisions managing the bird populations. Report a Gooses Leg Band to 1.800.327. BAND


  • It breeds in Canada and the Northern United States – the Great Lakes region maintains the largest population.
  • The most northerly geese breed on the Tundra of the Arctic;
  • Spends its winters migrating in California, South Carolina and Northern Mexico.


  • The Canadian Goose will be found anywhere near lakes, rivers, ponds, or small or large bodies of water, in yards, park lawns and farm fields;
  • You will find them grazing in and on the open grass;
  • Although territorial, the Canada Goose congregates with several hundred to several thousand when migrating south over the winter


  • Canada Geese and their nests are protected by the Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994. To possess, hunt or interfere with their activity in anyway is restricted and punishable by law;
  • The Migratory Bird Convention recognizes that birds may sometimes cause damage and danger, and provides management tools to reduce those conflicts – migratory birds, their eggs or nests may NOT be harmed without permit!


  • Scientists say there are up to 11 different races of the Canada Goose;
  • The Canada Goose is the largest wild goose ever recorded of its species;
  • Canada Geese continue to nest in the same region their parents did, often in the same nest;
  • The Canada Goose is found in every adjoining U.S. State and Canadian Province at one time of the year or another;
  • When mating, the Canada Goose will choose its mate for life. When one of the pair has died, the other will find another mate;
  • When they arrive at their migration destination, the geese must replace their worn-out “flight feathers”. For a period of four-to-five weeks, the geese will not be able to fly;
  • Canada Geese can travel more than 1000 km in one day;
  • In captivity, the longest living goose is known to be 80 years old. In the wild, the oldest goose was reported to be 30 years.

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