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Species Description

Canada Goose

Branta canadensis

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Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Aves
Order: Anseriformes
Family: Anatidae


lack head and neck; white chin strap; dark upper parts; paler under parts; white belly; white rump patch, shaped in a "U" (seen while flying); black tail, legs, and bill. 64-114 cm (25-45 in) in length. Other things to look for: This species is commonly heard before it is seen, with a loud honk or honk-a-lonk. The Canada Goose is also visible from distances when migrating because of the large "V" formation that the birds make while flying, although flocks of many other species of waterfowl also have a similar flight pattern.

Life Cycle

The breeding season begins in late April. The nesting habitat is highly variable, but is usually near water. Nests are on the ground near the water's edge or on muskrat or other mounds within the water. The nest is constructed of plant material, moss, and sticks, and lined with finer material and down. The female lays 4-10 (usually 4-7) eggs that she incubates for 25-30 days. The young are precocial and remain with the adults until the next spring. They are cared for by the adults for approximately a month to two months after they hatch.

Natural History

The habitats used by this species includes a variety of marshes, ponds, and lakes. The main foods eaten by the Canada Goose are plant materials - roots, seed, shoots, bulbs, grain, and berries. A large amount of grain is eaten during the winter. This species gathers food by taking items off the surface or near the surface of the water, "up-ending" (raising its tail end up while moving its head below the surface of the water to eat vegetation), or taking food items off of the ground. The Canada Goose is migratory.


Canada Goose Region Map The Canada Goose occurs throughout most of the United States during the breeding season, and most individuals spend winters in the central and southern latitudes of the country. Within Georgia this species can be found throughout the state all year long in appropriate habitat.

Conservation Status

Many of these birds are semi-domesticated or non-migratory individuals and will reman all year in certain areas with open water. This species is not listed needed any special conservation protection in any part of its southeastern range.

Similar Species

The species most similar to the Canada Goose are the Brant and the Snow Goose. In the Southeast, the Brant is found in coastal areas. It is a small goose that lacks the white chin strap and has a lot of white around its tail. The Snow Goose has two phases, white and blue. The white phase mostly white with black on its outer flight feathers. The Blue phase, which was formerly considered a separate species, has a white head, and a dark back, wings, breast, and upper belly; it is abundant on the Gulf Coast and uncommon but increasing in the East.