Canada Goose Fact File
The Canada goose has a large rounded body which is covered with brown feathers across the back and white feathers on the underside. The wing tips are black. They have a long neck which is coloured black as is the top of the head. A white stripe runs behind the eye down to the chin. Their beak is grey. They have a pair of large feet with webbing between each toe. The size of their feet is an adaptation to spread their weight when walking on mud.
Canada geese become larger the further South in their range they are found. Male Canada geese will typically be larger than the females. They measure between 55 and 100cm (22-39in) long. Their weight can vary greatly from 2-8kg (4.5-18lbs) across their range.
They are herbivorous. Their diet compromises a range of seeds, berries, grasses and leaves. Their food intake is seasonal with more grasses eaten during spring and summer switching to berries and seeds during fall and winter.
In human habitations Canada geese have adapted to feeding on domestic forms of grass found around houses.
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North America is the native home of the Canada goose. Here they can be found throughout the United States of America, Greenland, Bahamas, Canada, Cayman Islands, Cuba, Haiti, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Saint Pierre and Miquelon and the Turks and Caicos Islands.
They have been introduced to a range of countries including Belgium, Germany, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, United Kingdom, Faroe Islands, Finland, New Zealand, France, Poland, Austria, Czechia, Denmark, Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Latvia, Jamaica, Australia; Bermuda, Bulgaria, Iceland, Japan, Kiribati, Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of, Korea, Republic of, Liechtenstein, Marshall Islands, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain.
Canada geese make their home in grasslands, wetlands, tundra, semi-desert, marshes and wooded areas.
They have adapted to living on large areas of lawn created by humans. These are useful to the Canada goose as they provide a clear view of approaching predators.
Breeding takes place during spring and summer. They are typically monogamous and meet their partner during the second year of life.
The female will build most of the nest. This is built on a slightly elevated site near water and under a shrub or tree. On occasion the nest may be located on a beaver lodge. The nest is formed from dry grass, lichen, moss and other plants in a cup shape. This nest is lined with feathers.
It measures roughly 0.5m (1.5ft) across.Each pair will often return to a similar nest site each year.
In to this nest they typically deposit between four and seven eggs though on rare occasions there may be up to fifteen which are coloured white. While nesting they become incredibly aggressive towards anything entering their environment. During incubation the male undertakes the defense while the female does the incubation.
Eggs are laid at a rate of one every 1 ½ days. Incubation starts after all eggs are laid and lasts up to 30 days. Hatching may take the chicks anywhere from 8 to 36 hours.
At hatching their eyes are already open and they are covered in down. This down is olive-grey on top and yellow underneath. There is also a yellow stripe across the eye.
Within 1-2 day the chicks begin to travel with the parents and can feed themselves.
In captivity and in some places in the wild they may hybridise with graylag, snow, barnacle and pink-footed geese.
Sexual maturity is reached at 2 years old.
They are active during the day. Canada geese leave the water at dawn to begin grazing on the land.
Throughout late summer they will molt their feathers and during this period they are unable to fly.
Most northern populations undertake a migration to avoid the harsh of winter in these areas. They are known for the V-formation in which they fly.Their vocalizations include a range of honks and hisses.
Predators and Threats
In their native range they are preyed upon by coyotes, birds of prey such as bald eagles, bears, arctic foxes, raccoons and red foxes.
Humans target them through hunting for sport, food and to control their population in areas where they have been introduced.
The Canada goose is a regularly kept species of goose around the world.
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<https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Canada_Goose/lifehistory> [Accessed 9 July 2020].
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