Canada Geese Exploring Their Unique Habits

The Canada Goose has been called Canadian Goose, ring-necked goose, tundra goose, common wild goose, pain-in-the-blank goose, and last but not least, dinner.

Long before you see those northward or southward V-shaped flying formations of these geese, you'll hear their loud honking.

Probably the most widespread goose in North America with introduced populations in many other parts of the world.

What They Look Like

The Canada goose is a large bird in the waterfowl family. Varying in size, this bird can be anywhere from 22 to 48 inches long.

They have black heads and long black necks. The tail is black with a white band.

canada goose standing alone

Canada Goose

The white cheeks stand out against its black head looking like a "chinstrap". The under-tail is white.

The body is gray-brown. Ganders can have wingspans of nearly 6 feet and may reach weights of 14 plus pounds.

Males may be slightly larger but no color/marking differences between males and females.

Mating, Courtship Behaviors

Canada geese don't begin untils their second to third year of life. The breeding season begins in March - April.

The courtship behavior of Canada geese consists of a series of displays and rituals that take place between males (ganders) and females (goose) birds.

One common courtship display is the "head bobbing" display, in which the male lowers his head and bows repeatedly while making honking sounds.

This is often accompanied by the male extending his neck and flapping his wings.

Canada Geese Searching Nesting Sites

Another courtship display is the "triumph ceremony," in which the male spreads his wings, points his head upward, and honks loudly.

This display is often seen after the male has successfully chased off a rival male or defended his territory.

In addition to these displays, male Canada geese will also present the female with small gifts, such as bits of grass or twigs, to demonstrate their interest and ability to provide for her.

Does the Canada Goose Mate for Life?

Canada geese form strong bonds and often mate for life, and their courtship behaviors play a critical role in helping them find a suitable partner.

Before becoming too sentimental about the mating for life aspect, divorce does happen when nesting is not successful

Nesting Habits and Behaviors

They usually return to the same nesting site each year and both the male and female participate in building the nest.

The nests are typically built on the ground near water and are made of grass, feathers, and other materials. Nests from the previous year are often reused.

The female lays a clutch of 2-8 eggs, which she incubates for about 25-30 days. Males will guard the nest during incubation.

Canada Goose Nesting Stats
Canada Goose Nesting Stats
Eggs 3 - 7
Incubation 25 - 30 days
Nestling Phase Leave When All Hatch
Broods 1

Once the eggs hatch, the parents are very protective of the chicks and will fiercely defend them against any perceived threats.

The chicks are able to fly at about 10 weeks of age. The young will stay with their family for close to a year.

Feeding Habits

Overall, Canada geese have a diverse diet that allows them to survive in a wide range of environments.

These geese are mostly herbivorous and will eat algae, aquatic grasses, seeds, and berries. Their diet may also contain some insects, small fish, and crustaceans.

They are well-adapted to finding and consuming various food sources, and they can adjust their feeding habits to meet the demands of their environment.

Canada geese are known to forage for food in fields, meadows, and along the edges of lakes, streams, and rivers.

canada geese feeding along shoreline

Canada Geese Feeding Along Shore

They are also often seen feeding in grassy areas around parks, golf courses, and other areas where people live and work.

Canada geese are generally more active in the morning and evening when they are most likely to be foraging for food.

In urban areas, they may also feed on human-provided foods such as bread, crackers, and other scraps.

It is important to note that feeding wild animals, including Canada geese, can cause them to become dependent on human sources of food and may cause problems.

Canada Geese Migration

Canada geese traditionally are migratory birds that fly long distances between their breeding and wintering grounds.

The timing and specific routes can vary depending on the individual birds and their location.

geese flying in v formation

Canada Geese in V Formation

In general, Canada geese breed in the northern parts of North America, including Canada and Alaska.

These populations tend to migrate to more southern locations in the United States, Mexico, and Central and South America for the winter.

However, a large percentage of the population of the lower 48 will be permanent residents and not migrate. See range map.

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Birds and Blooms Pioneer Woman People Magazine First For Women