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Canada Goose    Canada goose

Identification - Pictures and Video

(Branta canadensis)

Canada gooseThe Canada goose is a large gray brown goose, from 22 to 36 inches, with a long neck, webbed feet, and a wide, flat bill.  They have a light tan or cream colored breast, and a black head and neck, or "stocking".  They have a white patch on each side of their head like a chin strap.  The tail is black, with a white rump band.  The bill and legs are black.  The bill has teeth like structures around the outside edges, use for cutting.  Male and female birds look the same.  Newly hatched birds are covered with a yellow down.  The down will be slowly covered with feathers as the birds grow, until they look just like the parents.  There are several subspecies, with a large variation in size.

Photos by Keith Lee.  The camera I use is the Canon EOS 40D.

Watch video of a pair of Canadian geese with their young on a pond.


For other bird videos please visit our Youtube channel and subscribe or like our videos.
Most videos on my site were taken with the Canon HG10 camcorder.

Range and Habitat

Canada goose and goslingsCanada geese, or Canadian geese are the most wide spread geese in America.  They range across Canada in the summer, and much of the U.S. for the entire year.  In winter many northern birds will migrate to the southern U.S., and Mexico.  They may be found in lakes, ponds, rivers, marshes, bays, prairies, and grain fields.  They are often seen on lawns, golf courses, and in parks.  When they travel in flocks they fly in long V-shaped formations.  Often the first indication that they are flying overhead is their honking sound.

canadian geeseMigrating flocks can number in hundreds or thousands of birds.  Scientists believe flying in V-formations allows the following birds to use less energy, because they make use of the drag effect from birds in front of them.

Breeding and Nesting

Male geese are very aggressive, and during nesting season they will defend their territories from other geese, predators, and humans.  They will lower their heads to the ground; pump it up and down, and hiss, often attacking.  Canada geese usually breed after their second year and mate for life.  They will often nest in the same area the females parents did.  They breed in a range of habitats but most nest sites will be near water, such as ponds or lakes.  The nest is made of grass, moss, and reeds, and is lined with down.  Breeding is timed so that the plants the young birds will feed on will be plentiful.  The female will incubate 5 to 7 whitish eggs for around 28 days, while the male stands guard.  The young birds, called goslings start communicating with their parents while they are still in the egg, with distress calls, greeting peeps, and calls of contentment.  They use an egg tooth at the top of their bills to break out of the shell.  Canada geese have very strong family bonds.  After hatching the goslings will follow the parents everywhere.  They will be able to fly in up to 9 weeks, and will stay with the parents for a year after hatching.


They have a variety of calls, but are best known for their  deep honking, which sounds like ka-ronk.
Listen to goose honk   geese flock 

White Geese  

This was recorded with just the Sony Voice Recorder ICD-PX312.

For more about recording bird songs and calls check out  Bird-Song-Recording


Food and Feeding

Canada geese feed on grass, leaves, stems, roots, flowers, seeds, and berries, foraging mostly on land.  Other foods are insects, crustaceans, and small fish.  They will also forage in water, sticking their head, and upper body below the surface, stretching their long necks, and using their bills to scoop food from the mud, and silt on the bottom.  In winter they will feed in fields of crops such as corn, wheat, rice, or oats.  Fights over food occur where the birds will grab each other's breasts or throats with their bills, and hit each other with their wings.

To learn about other favorite birds click here.

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