Canada Goose


Like most geese, the Canada goose is a migratory bird with its wintering range stretching most of the United States. In some areas, migration routes have changed due to changes in habitat and food sources most of which are human caused. In mild climates from California to the Great Lakes, geese have become non-migratory due to adequate winter food supply and a lack of former predators.


Protected Species

Canada geese are protected in Canada under the Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994. Commercial transaction (such as buying or trading) are prohibited. The possession, hunting, and interfering with the activity of the animals are restricted by law. Chasing these birds without proper approval and certification could lead to fines and jail time. Addling goose eggs and destroying nests are promoted as humane population control methods but can only be completed by a qualified party. 


Canada geese are primarily herbivores  although they sometimes eat small insects and fish. Their diet includes green vegetation and grains in addition to a variety of grasses when on land along with; beans, wheat, rice, and corn when available. In the water geese feed on silt at the waters bottom, as well as, aquatic plants, such as seaweeds. In Urban areas they are also known to pick food out of garbage bins in parks around there habitat.


During the second year of their lives, geese find a mate. The female lays from 2–9 eggs with an average of five. Both parents protect the nest while the eggs incubate, but the female spends more time at the nest than the male. The incubation period lasts for 24–28 days after egg laying has finished.

Once the goslings hatch they are immediately capable of walking, swimming and finding their own food. While protecting their goslings, parents often violently chase away nearby creatures, from small blackbirds to lone humans and even cars. They give a warning with a hissing sound and will then attack with bites and slaps of the wings if the threat does not retreat or has seized a gosling. Male geese are more aggressive, one documented case involved a male defending its nest from a brant goose that wandered into the area, the following attack lasted for one hour until the death of the Brant.



Canada geese are known for their seasonal migrations. Most Canada geese have staging or resting areas where they join up with others. Their autumn migration can be seen from September to the beginning of November. This time period has grown longer because of climate change and the adaptability of geese in urban areas. Geese will return to the same nesting ground year after year and lay eggs with their mate, raising them in the same way each year. This is recorded from the many tagged geese which frequent the East Coast. This will quickly lead to massive population growth on properties. In 5 years a population of 2 could increase to over 100.


The life span in the wild of geese that survive to adulthood ranges 10-24 years. The oldest record is held by a specimen tagged as a nestling which was observed live at the age of 31.



In many urban areas geese have a lack of predators, compared to the county. Predators of eggs and goslings include; Coyotes, Raccoons, Red Foxes, Large Gulls’, Common Raven, and Crows. Canada geese are quite wary of human’s in rural areas but can become habituated to humans in urban areas, especially where they are fed by them.



The annual summer molt also takes place during the breeding season, the adults lose their flight feathers for 20–40 days, regaining flight at about the same time as their goslings start to fly. During this time service typically is not needed unless your property has water suitable to support a family of geese.


Canada geese are susceptible to avian bird flus such as H5N1


Relationship with people

In the United States, non-migratory Canada goose populations have been on the rise every year. The species is frequently found on golf courses, parking lots and urban parks, which would have previously hosted only migratory geese on rare occasions. Due to the goose adaptability to human-altered areas, it has become the most common waterfowl species in North America. In many areas, non-migratory Canada geese are now regarded as pests by humans. They are a cause of an increase in high fecal coliforms at beaches and lakes which leads to widespread closures.