Not Just Any Goose: Canada Goose

Photo of Canada Goose

Prior to the mid-1900s, there were no resident Canada Geese in New England. But the introduction programs of various wildlife agencies quickly changed that (this article explores why these transplanted geese didn't migrate north to breed). It's now common knowledge that large numbers of Canada Geese live here year-round. That said, vast numbers of Canada Geese do annually migrate to and from their breeding grounds in the north.

Photo of Canada Goose feet

Regardless of their birth origin, Canada Geese have much to teach those who take the time to observe them. Their large stature, loud voices, and sheer abundance make them easy to find and recognize. They're also quite expressive -- utilizing a variety of head and neck postures in combination with vocalizations to communicate to other geese and other creatures, including humans. If you've ever had a goose hiss at you, chances are you didn't heed previous requests to back off.

Photo of Canada Goose pair

During spring and fall migration, flocks of arctic-breeding Canada Geese may share feeding and roosting sites with resident flocks. Some birders meticulously scan these flocks looking for less common geese, like Snow, Cackling, Greater White-fronted, Ross's, Barnacle, and Pink-footed. Hybrid geese are also possible, like the presumed Graylag Goose x Canada Goose I saw last month.


Note: A portion of the top pictured bird was featured in Quiz #123: Bird.

Additional Resources: For a detailed examination of Canada Geese behavior, read pages 17-28 of the Stokes Guide to Bird Behavior (Vol. 1).

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