The spectacle of Canada geese, as they fly across the sky on their migration path in the familiar “V” formation, confirms the shift in seasons. Canada geese are the first to arrive in spring, and they are among the last migrating birds to leave as winter returns. They can be found all across Canada. In the winter, most make their way to the mid and southern United States. Some even go the extra mile and fly all the way to northern Mexico.
Canada geese usually start migrating south when the ground begins to freeze in the fall. Scientists believe that the characteristic “v-shaped” flock of geese migrating creates a current of air along the lines of geese that makes it easier for individuals to fly, and allows for better communication and unity of the flock while in the air.
While many people only hear the trademark “honk” sounds, there is evidence that Canada geese can communicate with as many as 13 different calls for things like greetings, warnings and contentment. Goslings begin communicating with their parents while still in the egg! Once hatched, there is also evidence that they respond differently to different calls and noises from their parents, indicating a sophisticated level of communication.
More Interesting Facts on the Canada Goose
A Canada Goose mates for life and both parents raise the young. It is one of the most family-oriented waterfowl species.
Breeding takes place early in the year when the plant food is in its prime and nesting usually happens from late March to early May. The female Canada Goose always returns to the same area where her parents nested. While there are exceptions, females will usually return to the same nesting area every year. Once the eggs are laid, the female incubates them until they hatch around 28 days later. The male stays near the nest and keeps a close eye on the female and the eggs. If a predator should threaten them, the male will attempt to protect the nest by luring the predator away. Once the goslings hatch, both their parents raise them. The family spends all of its time together. Goslings usually stay with their parents for a full year after they hatch.
A Canada Goose usually spends up to 12 hours a day feeding on grasses, roots, leaves, waste crops and other plant materials to take in the nutrition that it needs. Before its migration, a Canada Goose will eat even more to build up the fat reserves they need to make the long trips.
Populations of Canada Geese are generally increasing, partly because of habitat restoration and partly because they adapt superbly to the presence of man – feeding on waste grain in crop lands, nesting in urban areas and grazing on lawns.
All Canada Geese have a greyish-coloured body and a long black head and neck with a distinctive white cheek patch, but there are numerous races or subspecies with substantial differences in weight and size. Smaller races are about the size of a large duck, while larger races can exceed nine kilograms with a wingspan of more than a metre.