Creatures Big and Small-Canadian Geese

Canadian Geese (Branta canadensis)

Bigger than a Mallard Bird, smaller than a Mute Swan, the Canadian Geese is a common sight in the Pacific Northwest in spring and all through summer and fall.

Relatively huge water birds with a long neck, long body, huge webbed feet, and a wide, flat bill, the Canadian Geese are typically around 29.9-43.4 in(76-110cm), 105.8 oz – 317.5 oz (3-9 kg) and have a wingspan of 50.0-66.9 in(120-170cm).

While their natural habitat are the marshes, usually staying around places that are near lakes or any other body of water, and in yards, farm fields, and they like urban areas too.  They especially appreciate lawns, such as park lawns, airports and golf courses. Yep, they like upscale neighborhoods.

One such park lawn is at the University of Washington. Here, you will find flocks of Canadian Geese who are permanent residents and an inseparable part of the university’s landscape.

Their inclination for urban setting has practical reasons.Manicured lawns provide Canadian Geese a wide and clear view of any predators, especially when they are feeding their young. At the same time, urban places are more likely to have man-made ponds that are warmed and will not freeze during the winter. Hence, they can continue to feed. Smart birds.  

There are at least 11 subspecies of the Canadian Geese. Normally, the geese are smaller when you go north and are darker as you go west. Single Canadian Geese from a lot of populations head north after breeding.

Maybe they believe in gender equality, but geese of both genders tend to choose mates that are a similar size as them although males are slightly bigger than the female. And they tend to stay monogamous for life and are together throughout the year. Admirable.

Most Canadian Geese don’t breed until they are four years old. And when they do, they nest in the ground and prefer areas that have a clear view. It is the female geese that chooses the spot and primarily does the nest construction and the incubation, not too different from the human species in that respect. The male goose is not idle either. His protects the female and the nest.

The Canadian Geese waste no time in equipping their offspring with survival skills. You might call them ‘tiger’ parents.  Less than 24 hours after birth, the parents will teach the goslings how to swim. By the time goslings are a grand one-day old, they are usually able to dive 30-40 feet deep.

Young birds typically stay with their parents for their first year. Their parents are protective. They will vigorously attack anything that they sense is a threat to their goslings. These include their predators such as coyotes, raccoons, foxes, crows, wolves, owls, bears and eagles

In the spring and summer, geese feed on grass, aquatic plants, and small sea creatures. In the fall and winter, they look for berries (they specifically like blueberries) and seeds or grains.

It is during the colder months that they become more social, as they realize they need each other to look for food. They would often fly in a V formation, with the more experienced geese taking turns leading the flock to warmer climates where there is easier access to food and water.

Although Canadian Geese are said to be able to live up to 33 years, on average, they live between 10-24 years in the wild.

Citations

Canada Goose Overview, All about Birds, Cornell Lab of Ornithology. n.d. Available at https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Canada_Goose [Accessed 23 July 2020].

Canada Goose | National Geographic. 2018. Natgeo.

 Available at https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/birds/c /canada-goose/ [Accessed 25 July 2020].

Canada Goose Facts, Information & Photos. n.d. American Expedition.

 Available at https://forum.americanexpedition.us/canada-goose-i nformation-facts-photos-and-artwork [Accessed 25 July 2020].

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