Most Canada geese don’t breed until they are at least two years old. The breeding occurs earlier than most bird species so that when the little ones hatch, the plants they need to eat will be in their prime. Canada geese mate for life and they almost always return each year to the same spot where the female was raised. They will nest in late March and it takes the female goose about 28 days to hatch her eggs. The male will stay close to the nest and protect his mate from any potential predators. Both parents will raise the goslings.
The Canada goose has a high tolerance towards people and can be found in urban areas where there is water to support a population. They frequent golf courses and parks with their droppings making them an unwelcome guest at times. They will eat the grass in these areas and make short trips to fields where they can find the plants, grains and berries that comprise most of their diet. They also eat aquatic plants and are not adverse to people feeding them
There are a couple of formations that the Canada goose is renowned for. One is the “V” formation when flying, especially during migrations north and south. The geese take turns being the lead bird in the V, as this requires the most effort and energy. The bird in the back gets added lift from the bird in front of it and scientists believe this formation makes collisions much less likely and allows all the flock members to keep track of each other. The other formation occurs when the young are born and take to the water. The female goose will take the lead and the youngsters will fall in behind all in a row, with the male taking up the rear as they swim about.
The Canada goose can be as long as 42 inches from beak to tail and have a wingspan of 50 to 70 inches. A large specimen can weigh as much as 20 pounds. They possess a black head on an elongated black neck, with what appears to be a chinstrap of white feathers. The beak is black as are its legs, tails, and eyes. The breast of the Canada goose is a tan cream color and the back is brownish, while under the tail the feathers are white.
Despite its name, Canada geese can be found well outside of Canada. They can be seen throughout the United States depending on the time of year. During the summer, the Canada geese nest all over Canada as far north as the tundra of the Arctic Circle. They can be found in Alaska in the warmer months and all over the northern U.S. Once the ground starts to freeze, the Canada geese will head south to the southern states of the U.S. and even into northern portions of Mexico, although some will stay in colder climes if the winter isn’t too severe. They will live along lakes, ponds and large waterways.