Also a lot of nasty looking foam around the edge of the reservoir
Inadvertently disturbed Canada Goose from it's nest.
Scientific & Common Name
This species is commonly known as the "Canada goose". Although it is often referred to by its common name, this bird is scientifically classified in binomial nomenclature as Branta canadensis (Mott & Timbrook, 1988).
Habitat & Geographic Range
The Canada goose is able to adapt to a variety of habitats. Being waterfowl, Canada geese tend to spend as much time in water as they do on land (The Royal Canadian Geographical Society, 2006). As such, they typically prefer wetland environments, including land near ponds, lakes, and rivers (Canadian Wildlife Federation, 2003). When on land, the Canada goose prefers grassy areas as well as areas where grain or berries are nearby (National Geographic Society, n.d.). Given a suitable habitat, the geese often coexist with humans in urban areas such as parks, on golf courses and on lawns (The Royal Canadian Geographical Society, 2006).
The geographic range of the Canada goose covers a vast amount of North America (to which the species is native), as well many parts of Europe and other places in the world to which it was introduced, such as Austria, Russia, and New Zealand (International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, 2012). Most of Canada, the United States, as well as northern Mexico is home to the Canada goose, depending on the time of year. In the summer, Canada geese reach as far north as the upper part of Canada. When temperatures fall in the winter, they migrate as far south as the lower United States and northern Mexico (The Royal Canadian Geographical Society, 2006).
Size/Weight & Lifespan
Typically, an adult Canada goose can vary from around an average length of 0.76m-1.1m, an average wingspan of about 1.3m-1.7m, and an average body weight of about 3kg-9kg (National Geographic Society, n.d.). Body weight differs between genders, as female geese typically weigh slightly less than males (University of Illinois Extension, n.d.). In addition, body weight varies depending on the time of year, with preparatory migration diet changes increasing overall body weight (McLandress & Raveling, 1981).
For many Canada geese, their lifespan will depend on whether they can survive past their first year. Surviving the first year is an important milestone as it gives the Canada goose valuable experience that makes it better at dealing with predators. Canada geese in urban areas have a higher chance of surviving past their first year due to a greater abundance of food and fewer predators (Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, n.d.). As they then get closer to adulthood, the geese also become less likely to be preyed on due to their increased size. Once a Canada goose survives past its first year, its lifespan in the wild can range from around 10-24 years (Canadian Wildlife Federation, 2003).
Canada geese are classified as herbivores (National Geographic Society, n.d.). However, on occasion they have also been known to consume aquatic invertebrates (University of Illinois Extension, n.d.), as well as larva, snails, and other small organisms (Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, 2016). As grazers that feed mostly on land vegetation, the Canada goose consumes a wide range of vegetation in its diet. Their primary diet includes grasses, leaves, roots, as well as various grains, berries, flowers, and seeds (Canadian Wildlife Federation, 2003). Canada geese require so much energy to prepare for their winter migration that they will often spend 12 hours a day or more feeding in the summer (Canadian Wildlife Federation, 2003)!
Reproduction & Communication
Canada geese are typically ready to reproduce sexually with a monogamous partner by their third year of life (University of Illinois Extension, n.d.). Once per year, in springtime, around 5-7 eggs may be incubated by the female goose in a nest for around 25-30 days, while the male aggressively defends them (Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, n.d.). Once hatched, the goslings are closely guarded by their parents. The goslings are able to walk, swim, and feed within 24 hours of hatching (Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, n.d.). The cycle repeats as female geese return each year to the nest area of their parents (Canadian Wildlife Federation, 2003).
Canada geese are very social birds (University of Illinois Extension, n.d.). Beginning even before goslings hatch, they are able to communicate with their parents from inside their eggs via peeps and calls indicating whether they are distressed or content. At adulthood, Canada geese have about 13 different calls, ranging from low clucks and murmurs while feeding, to loud calls of alarm (Canadian Wildlife Federation, 2003). Effective verbal communication is critical for flocks of geese to be able to coordinate their great migrations each year. In addition, non-verbal communication, such as the classic "V" shaped flying pattern, allows changes to flight movements to be communicated quickly and efficiently throughout the flock (Canadian Wildlife Federation, 2003).
The Canada goose has various natural predators at all stages of life. Before they hatch, Canada goose eggs are the target of predators such as foxes, gulls, crows, raccoons, and skunks (Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, n.d.). Upon hatching, goslings face predators such as coyotes, snapping turtles, and mink (University of Illinois Extension, n.d.). The size and experience of adult geese allow them to defend themselves significantly from predators. However, adult geese still remain prey to coyotes, foxes and eagles (University of Illinois Extension, n.d.). Under some circumstances humans may hunt Canada geese as well (Government of Canada, 2016).
The reputable IUCN Red List of Threatened Species classification and ranking system historically and presently lists the Canada goose as "least concern" on their index of worldwide conservation status (International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, 2012). This is justified by their increasing population and large geographic range. In Canada, Canada geese are protected under the Migratory Birds Convention Act (Government of Canada, 2016). Although this Act protects birds from harm, exploding populations have made the Canada goose a nuisance in some areas, giving them consideration as game birds for hunting under specific conditions (Government of Canada, 2016).
Did You Know?
Canada geese fly gracefully in their signature "V" shape, which serves two functions. As indicated above, the "V" formation facilitates communication of flight movements in the air (Canadian Wildlife Federation, 2003). However, the main function of the formation is to conserve energy when flying long distances due to drafting behind the leader geese (Canadian Wildlife Federation, 2003). Maintaining the "V" formation during migration is no easy feat. A study by Wege and Raveling (1984), examined flight speed of Canada geese in response to wind resistance. They found that flight speed of their sample of geese reached up to 83km/h, over a total migration distance of 865km. Imagine travelling at that speed from Toronto to McMaster University 13 times, using only the power of your own body - that is an impressive bird! It is no wonder that a different study by McLandress and Raveling (1981), found that in order to prepare for migration, Canada geese body weight increased by 36% for females and 26% for males. They really need that extra energy!
Canadian Wildlife Federation. (2003). Canada Goose. Hinterland Who's Who. Retrieved from http://www.hww.ca/en/wildlife/birds/canada-goose.html#sid6
Government of Canada. (2016). Frequently Asked Questions - Canada Geese. Environment and Climate Change Canada. Retrieved from http://www.ec.gc.ca/mbc-com/default.asp?lang=en&n=98A918B1-1
Government of Newfoundland and Labrador. (2016). Canada Goose. Department of Environment and Conservation. Retrieved from http://www.env.gov.nl.ca/env/snp/programs/education/animal_facts/mammals/canada_goose.html
International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources. (2012). Branta canadensis. Red List. Retrieved from http://www.hww.ca/en/wildlife/birds/canada-goose.html#sid6
McLandress, M. R., & Raveling, D. G. (1981). Changes in diet and body composition of Canada geese before spring migration. The Auk, 98. 65. Retrieved from https://sora.unm.edu/sites/default/files/journals/auk/v098n01/p0065-p0079.pdf
Mott, D. F., & Timbrook, S. K. (1988). Alleviating nuisance Canada goose problems with acoustical stimuli. Proceedings of the Thirteenth Vertebrate Pest Conference, 301. Retrieved from http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1060&context=vpcthirteen&sei-redir=1&referer=http%3A%2F%2Fscholar.google.ca%2Fscholar%3Fstart%3D10%26q%3Dcanada%2Bgoose%26hl%3Den%26as_sdt%3D0%2C5#search=%22canada%20goose%22
National Geographic Society. (n.d.). Canada Goose. National Geographic. Retrieved from http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/birds/canada-goose/
The Royal Canadian Geographical Society. (2006). Animal Facts: Canada Goose. Canadian Geographic. Retrieved from https://www.canadiangeographic.ca/article/animal-facts-canada-goose
University of Illinois Extension. (n.d.). Canada Goose (Branta canadensis). Living with Wildlife in Illinois. Retrieved from http://web.extension.illinois.edu/wildlife/directory_show.cfm?species=canadagoose
Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. (n.d.). Canada Geese. Living With Wildlife. Retrieved from http://wdfw.wa.gov/living/canada_geese.html
Wege, M. L., & Raveling, D. G. (1984). Flight speed and directional responses to wind by migrating Canada Geese. The Auk, 101, 342-343. Retrieved from https://sora.unm.edu/sites/default/files/journals/auk/v101n02/p0342-p0348.pdf
The Canada Goose (Branta canadensis) is a goose with a black head and neck, white patches on the face, and a brownish-gray body. Native to arctic and temperate regions of North America, it also occasionally migrates to northern Europe, and has been introduced to Britain, New Zealand, and other temperate regions.