Canada Goose

Hey guys, welcome back! The Canada Goose, one of the most widespread birds in North America. A complicated bird, with dubious reputation, some of which is deserved. First off, the species name is Canada Goose, not Canadian Goose, and the proper plural is Canada Geese (or as a lot of birders may refer to them, Canadas.) I only mention this because until about 6 years ago or so, I thought they were Canadian Geese.

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Canada Goose, Gateway Arch National Park, St. Louis, MO

Found throughout much of North America, the Canada Goose’s breeding range covers central and northern… you guessed it, Canada. The ones that migrate that is, but I’ll come back to that in a bit. Canada Geese have a number of subspecies, currently 7 according to the American Ornithologist’s Union. They are a good species example of Bergmann’s Rule which basically means individuals further north tend to be smaller. There’s been/is still some debate on the Cackling Goose, and whether or not it is a separate species, but for the time being the official answer to that is yes.

We used to have tons of them in our backyard when I was growing up. They’d just hang out back there grazing. I had a dog that loved to go out there and chase them. Then he liked eat and to roll around in their droppings. Not so nice lol.

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Canada Geese flyover, Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, Queens, NY

Anyway, pretty much everyone knows what a Canada Goose looks like. They’re common in parks, on golf courses, and have adapted well to living near human habitation, thanks in part at least, to humans having driven away most of their natural predators. Because of this, they are often considered a nuisance. They’re loud, the leave a mess behind them, and they are very aggressive and territorial. In addition, many Canada Goose populations don’t migrate as they can find ample food in parks and urban (and suburban) areas throughout the year. Many states, and even the USDA itself, have various methods of population control in place from open hunting seasons, to addling the eggs (basically terminating the embryo development so the eggs never hatch.) I always heard rumor that this was done in Central Park and throughout New York City, but I have no direct knowledge that can either confirm or refute it (but there would be baby goslings every year.) Central Park did employ at one time the “Geese Police” which was a population control method where a trained dog would haze the geese, causing them to not become established. These methods are designed to focus on the sedentary populations rather than the migratory ones. Populations that have become sedentary are the “problem” geese as they will become established in one spot, making a mess and causing a disturbance. Migratory populations are less of a problem because they still act like wild animals, and don’t stick around long.

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Canada Goose, Forest Park, St. Louis, MO

Overall, nearly everyone knows what a Canada Goose is, and next to the Mallard, it is probably the most identifiable species of waterfowl, at least in North America. Common, and sometimes a pest, the Canada Goose is just living its life. Now, I’m not saying they aren’t deserving of much of the ire they get, but let’s just keep in mind that they are still wild animals that have had to adapt to humans drastically changing their habitat. After all, we pretty much eliminated all their natural predators, enabling them to establish themselves in more numbers, then we complained that they were “pests.” Anyway, That’ll wrap things up for this time, but we’re sticking with waterfowl for our next post when we talk about a duck that nests… in trees!?

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