Canada Goose – NOT the jacket
Although it’s not our official national bird, the Canada Goose has been a part of Canadian identity for a long time. It’s the most widely distributed goose in North America. Canada Geese have a black head with white cheeks and chinstrap, long black neck, tan breast, and brown back. They’re found at a broad range of elevations, from coastal through alpine, and occupy a broad range of habitats, as long as there is water nearby. You can see them in ponds, lakes, reservoirs, bays, estuaries, marshes, pastures and fields, city and suburban parks, golf courses, and grassy waterfront yards.
They’re one of the few animals that can digest grass. This is one reason why they like places with large lawns like parks, golf courses, and airports. Another reason is that the wide unobstructed view allows them to easily spot predators. They also eat grain from fields and dabble in shallow water by tipping forward and extending their necks underwater. In the fall and winter, they rely more on berries and seeds.
Canada Geese breed in northern temperate, sub-arctic and arctic regions. The American Breeding Bird Survey estimated the total North American population in 2015 was between 4.2 million to over 5.6 million. Many people consider them a nuisance because they can leave up to 1.5 kilograms of droppings every day, forcing closures of beaches, athletic fields and recreation areas.
They often form large flocks and fly in a V-formation. In the past, Canada Geese followed defined migration routes, with traditional stopover areas and wintering grounds. Urbanization has allowed some populations to become resident. Others have changed their migration route and wintering grounds.
We notice that here in Uxbridge. Geese are often seen on Elgin Pond in summer and winter, quite different from what it was like 50 years ago. Various shrub plantings have made access to the grassy areas next to the pond more difficult, but with numbers increasing across the country, these birds will be around for years to come.
Nancy Melcher is The Nature Nut. Send details of your sightings or questions about the natural world to: firstname.lastname@example.org