GENUS & SPECIES
• One of nature’s great spectacles: thousands fill \ the flyways on their journey south in autumn f • Travels in V-formations, creating slipstreams
to minimize the effort of migratory flight • Has a built-in compass to aid navigation when clouds obscure landmarks and hide the stars
WHERE IN THE WORLD?
Each fall, Canada geese take to the air and fly in undulating V-shaped formations as they follow their migratory flyways south across the North American continent.
A Waterside home
The Canada goose always breeds near water.
The Canada goose is an open-country bird, breeding in a variety of freshwater wetlands, from the tundra belt to plains, swamps and lakeside pastures. In winter; the goose favors cultivated fields, estuaries and coastal marshes.
Where it has been introduced in Europe and the U.S., it has colonized parks, farmland, reservoirs and golf courses.These birds are generally nonmigratory, although some move locally each year. They are creating problems as populations are out of control.
The Canada goose isn’t under threat as a species, but its future depends upon the conservation of its winter-range wetlands — many have been drained for urban development and farming. Efforts by wildlife and conservation organizations have brought hope that vital habitats will be safeguarded.
Bird migration is both a marvel and a mystery and it’s still not fully understood how the flocks of Canada geese find their way to the same areas every year. They probably use a range of navigational aids, including landmarks, the sun and stars and their own built-in sensitivity to the Earth’s magnetic field.
Birds that nest in the far north travel the longest distances. Some Arctic breeders fly more than 3,000 miles to winter around the Gulf of Mexico, more southerly populations migrate only a few hundred miles and some not at all.
Northbound geese fly in smaller flocks over a longer period; their journey is less dramatic than the mass migration in autumn.
THE GREATEST AIR SHOW ON EARTH
1 Assembly…2 Departure…
Geese become restless as the With a honking chorus and a flurry
time approaches for the southern of wings, the great autumn journey
migration. On a signal from a gets under way. Flocks at first mill
dominant male, they face the wind. around, but soon all head south.
FOOD & FEEDING
By traveling in V-formation and changing position regularly, each bird can conserve energy by flying in the slipstream of its leader.
Geese lose height by “whiffling,” like a falling leaf, slip sideways or even roll, dropping a few feet at a time before leveling out.
The Canada goose is a grazer: It eats a wide variety of plant parts (leaves, stems, roots, rhizomes, fruits and seeds). It feeds mostly on land, although it will also feed in water; upending like a duck to reach juicier growth: A common target for hunters in parts of its range, the goose has learned to be wary, especially while feeding. A grazing flock always has sentry birds alert and scanning for danger
Flights to the feeding grounds are made at sunrise, the geese arriving in family parties one after another — sometimes an entire field may be covered by birds. Largest concentrations are found in wildlife refuges and on arable farmland; birds raid cereal crops and cause further damage by compacting the soil with their feet.
Changes in agricultural methods have led to increased availability of food in northern
Cold comfort Seasonal food shortage in northern climates forces the goose to migrate.
areas; this is thought to be one reason why many geese don’t migrate as far south as they did in previous decades.
The Canada goose mates for life, selecting its partner at the wintering grounds. Courtship involves neck movements and honking duets. This routine is repeated annually, even by established pairs.
The nest (a waterside pile of vegetation lined with down) is built by the female, who also incubates the eggs. Her mate fiercely defends the nest against rivals until the eggs hatch. Then both parents are devoted to protecting their brood wherever they roam.
A gosling nibbles plants and eats insects until it is strong enough to graze properly.
A Quick off the mark Goslings swim and find food on the first day of life.
# The Canada goose quickl learns to fly higher than usual during the hunting season and feed whenever possible in areas where shooting is banned.
# During its marathon migration, the goose cruises at about 4 mph, usually at altitudes up to 3,300′. On occasion, the bird has been known to fly over mountains 12,045′ high.
# The bond between a pair of Canada geese is so strong that if one is I injured during migration, i its partner will stay behind with it.
The male goose is a fierce guardian of its nest and young and will aggressively drive away any intruder.
The Canada goose’s close relatives bear distinctive plumage, particularly on the face.The black brant is a black-faced subspecies of the brant goose. The red-breasted goose has a black face boldly
marked with white and rusty-brown.The barnacle goose has a bold white face against a dark crown, neck and breast, while the Canada goose bears only a white bib against its dark facial plumage.
Black brant goose
|Length Wingspan||22-44″ 4-6′|
|Sexual Maturity||2-3 years|
|Number of Eggs||Usually 4-7|
|Incubation Period||24-30 days|
|Fledging Period||6-12 weeks|
|Breeding Interval||1 year|
|Typical Diet||Grasses, grain and aquatic vegetation|
|Lifespan||Up to 23 years|
• The Canada goose is one of 15 “true” geese in a family of 147 species, including ducks and swans.The Canada goose is the largest of five species in the genus (Branta (known as black-I necked geese). Along with swans, whistling ducks, the Cape Barren goose and freckled duck, the true geese are classified in the subfamily Anserinae. Geese and swans are classified together in the tribe Anserini.