Guest Author - Malika Harricharan
For most North Americans, when you think of geese, you picture the well known Canadian Geese Branta canadensis. This more familiar and most common of the wild geese is best known in urban areas as a visitor in spring and fall. Canadian Geese, are mostly found in or near lakes, bays and rivers.
Sizes vary, but the head and neck markings make this goose easily identifiable, unlike ducks. It is very recognizable with their black head and neck and white cheeks. It is one of the only species where there is no difference in looks between the male and female.
The Canada’s breed on lake shores and coastal marshes, primarily in Canada, and migrate in organized units utilizing the well known V-formation, although sometimes flying in long strings of birds. Spotting the V-shaped formation as it crosses the sky symbolizes the transition from winter to spring, and summer to fall.
Scientists believe that the reason these birds fly in the V formation due to what is known as the ‘drafting effect’ Basically, this boils down to conserving their energy. The one in the front splits the air current (and at the same time used the most energy). When he tires, he moves to the back and the next goose takes over.
Canada Geese have a strong sense of family in that they mate for life and the goslings stay with their parents for a year after they are born. They even return to their breeding grounds after winter.
Nests for Canadian Geese are generally located near water. Eggs are incubated by the female only and the average incubation length is 25 days. Once the goslings are alive for 24 hours, they already know how walk, swim and feed. Between 6 to 9 weeks of life the goslings down changes to feathers.
Canadian Geese can adapt to a vast majority of climates and therefore have been introduced in England, New Zealand, and parts of Europe.
Flying by day and night, Canada’s have set down in flocks on city squares, apparently mistaking a pool of light for a water surface. They seldom live in cities or towns, although visiting urban parks on occasions.
In recent years geese have become a problem in urban areas due to overcrowding. There have been initiatives for people to stop feeding geese. Not only is it causing overcrowding, but the bread and crackers that they are fed by human do not provide much nutrition. Another consequence of overcrowding is that they can more easily transmit diseases to each other.
Get your kids interested in birding. Check out the link below: