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Fast Facts: Canada goose
||1.1 to 8 kg
||127 to 173 cm
Did you know?
Canada geese nest in the same region their parents did, often in the same nest every year.
Many people recognize the Canada goose by its distinctive black head, white
cheeks, long, black neck and webbed feet. In general, the larger the bird means
the longer the neck and the more its body is elongated. Scientists believe,
however, that there are 11 confirmed subspecies of geese in Canada, and most
differ in appearance. There is a large range in weight between the subspecies,
from 1.1 kilograms for the cackling Canada goose to eight kilograms for the
giant Canada goose. Wingspans also vary from 90 centimetres to two metres. The
under parts for each subspecies can vary in colour, ranging from light
pearl-grey to chestnut and blackish brown. Both male and female geese, however,
look the same if they're of the same subspecies.
Canada geese can are found in most types of wetland. Although they are waterfowl, they
spend as much time on land as they do in the water. In the spring and summer months, the
geese eat leaves, flowers, stems, roots, seeds and berries. They will often eat for 12 hours
or more a day to consume a sufficient amount of nutrients. They feed even more intensively
right before they fly north after the winter, storing energy for an active breeding period
and preparing for a lack of food in the spring. Canada geese can also be found grazing on
lawns, in parks and on golf courses.
Canada geese normally migrate to southern agricultural areas for the winter. To do so,
they fly in the distinct “V” pattern, where one goose is the leader and its flock follows
behind in a v-shape. This helps the geese save energy when they migrate, benefit from the
air currents passing the leader, permitting them to fly longer distances. The v-shape also
allows for an easier coordination of the flock's movements, such as a change in flight speed
or direction. The formation lets these changes be communicated quickly and efficiently to
all geese in the flock.
When geese are flying in formation, you can often hear them calling to each other. Adult
Canada geese have about 13 different calls, ranging from low clucks and murmurs communicated
while feeding and loud greeting and alarm calls. Goslings even start to communicate with
their parents while they're still in the egg. A gosling can make a call, or peep, if it's
distressed or content.
Canada geese breed all through North America, with the exception of the high
Arctic and the extreme southern parts of the United States and Mexico. Some
flocks winter in southern Canada, from British Columbia to southwestern Ontario
to the Maritime provinces. They are only found in these areas if food and open
water is available. Otherwise, the majority travel farther south to the United
States, or even to northeastern Mexico.