20 " long.
well-known and easily distinguished bird, the Canada Goose
has a mottled gray-brown body, black legs, tail, neck,
head, and face, with a white rump, sides, and chin-strap.
There are a number of recognized subspecies that vary considerably
in size. Some of the smaller subspecies have a white ring
at the base of the neck.
found near water, Canada Geese inhabit lakes, ponds, bays,
marshes, yards, and fields. Urban populations are not shy
around people and often live in city parks and suburban
Geese graze while walking on land, and feed on submergent
aquatic vegetation by reaching under the water with their
long necks. Males defend territories from other geese and
humans by hissing.
plant material and waste grain left in plowed fields make
up the majority of the Canada Goose's diet. Insects, mollusks,
crustaceans, and occasionally small fish are also eaten.
Geese form long-term pair bonds. The female chooses the
nest-site on a slightly elevated spot near water with good
visibility. She then builds the nest, a shallow bowl with
a slight depression, made of sticks, grass, and weeds,
and lined with down. She lays and incubates 4 to 7 eggs,
while the male stands guard nearby. One or two days after
the young hatch, they swim and feed themselves, although
the parents still tend them and help them find food. The
young first fly at 6 to 9 weeks, depending on the race.
each population of Canada Goose followed a rigid migratory
corridor with traditional stopovers and wintering areas,
like most other North American geese. Today, however, many
urban populations are year-round residents, and other populations
have changed migratory routes.
of Canada Geese is complex since some of the seven subspecies
are so abundant that they are controlled as nuisances and
other subspecies are considered endangered. One subspecies
of Canada Goose (Branta canadensis moffitti) breeds in
Washington. This subspecies is common year round in developed
areas, especially grassy waterfront lawns. These geese
were uncommon here before 1900, but as habitat has been
altered by humans, stricter hunting laws enforced, and
natural predators eliminated, their population has grown.
In the Seattle area, many people consider Canada Geese
a nuisance. Within the past few years, control measures
have included egg shaking and oiling, relocating, and even
killing large numbers of geese. These stopgap measures,
however, only temporarily reduce the urban populations,
which rebound as long as they have abundant habitat and