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Canada Goose

Canada Goose
Branta canadensis
(Order:  Anseriformes, Family:  Anatidae)

Description:  This goose is one of the most easily identifiable and most recognized birds in Kansas due to its wide range and familiarity.  The Canada Goose has a black head and neck, white chinstrap, a light tan to cream breast, and brown back.  It has a long neck, large body, large webbed feet, and a wide, flat bill. Body length is approximately 29.9–43.3 in, wingspan is 50–66.9 in and weight is about 105.8–317.5 oz.

Range and Habitat:  Canada Geese live in habitats near water, grassy fields, and grain fields. Canada Geese are particularly drawn to lawns, parks, airports, and golf courses since they can digest grass. When they are feeding with their young, manicured lawns give them a wide, unobstructed view of any approaching predators.  They are found year-round in the northern half of Kansas and are found throughout the United States and Canada.  There are also 11-12 subspecies known.

Diet:  In spring and summer, geese mostly feed on grasses and sedges, including skunk cabbage leaves and eelgrass.  During fall and winter, they tend to eat more berries and seeds, including agricultural grains like corn, and seem especially fond of blueberries.

Video of the Canadian Goose. Canada Goose - HD Mini-Documentary

Behavior and Communication:  These birds are ground foragers, spending most of their time on the ground searching for food.  They can also be seen flying in large flocks overhead when heading to a new location.  Threat displays include head pumping, bill opened with tongue raised, hissing, honking, and vibrating neck feathers.  The communicate by a variety of sounds, including a deep musical honking to a higher gabbling or cackling.  This is why they are also known as the “Cackling Goose”.

Sounds of the Canada Goose:  http://www.gpnc.org/Sounds/honkers.wav

Reproduction:  In Kansas, they begin to build their nest as early as mid-March. The nest is a large mound of vegetation such as grass and cattail stems lined with down. It is usually located within sight of water.  A typical clutch is 4-7 eggs and incubation is done solely by the female. The male guards the nest and will attack any intruders.  Incubation takes 25 to 30 days and the goslings are led to water within a day after hatching. They also tend to be monogamous and only mate with one mate for life.

Conservation Status:  Least Concern according to the IUCN.

References:
Birds of North America by Kenn Kaufman.  Pg 38-39.  Houghton Mifflin Company, 2000.


Links
Cornell Lab or Ornithology: http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/canada_goose/id

Great Plains Nature Center:  http://www.gpnc.org/canada.htm


Image Credits:
U.S. Distribution Map of  the Canada Goose by http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/canada_goose/id

Pictures of the Canada Goose by: Casey Cantrell, July 2011


Submitted by: Casey Cantrell, July 2011

 

 

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Generated on 2011. This website is continuously updated.
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