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|Species: Branta canadensis
Canada geese have distinctive coloration with a dark brown-gray body, creamy white belly and rump, and black head and neck with a white “chinstrap.” They have large bodies reaching 40 inches and can have wingspans over 4 feet long!
Habitat & Range
Canada geese can be found across North America in open grassy habitats near water. They typically fly to the southern part of their range for the winter. They are comfortable in a variety of altitudes and can often be found in urban areas with large manicured lawns. Though native to North America, they have been introduced to parts of Europe and Asia.
Traveling long distances for their annual migration, Canada geese can often be observed flying in a “V” formation. This method of flying is incredibly energy efficient, as a flock of Canada geese can travel 2,400km in a single day! The lead postion of the formation is the most difficult, so individuals switch postions during the flight to share the burden. They communicate in flight with vocalizations that sound like honking.
Some populations of Canada geese in more temperate regions do not migrate, and instead stay in within a small range, quite often in urban areas with many open grassy areas. Urban areas can also offer greater food resources, fewer predators, and safe wintering sites. Canada geese are herbivorous, primarily eating grass,leaves, berries, seeds, algae, and roots.
Canada geese breed once annually from April to May. Clutchs average around 5 eggs and take one month to hatch. Young geese become independant after a year and do not become mature until they are 2-3 years old.
Featured image by James Dake