Canada Goose (Branta canadensis)
The North American population of Canada Geese doubled between 1955 and 1974, partly because of regulated hunting, and partly because of its habit of eating grain and taking food directly from humans. This has led to the persecution of this species as a pest.
Male and female Canada geese are very similar in size and appearance. Sometimes reaching up to 125 cm, this is the largest of the North American geese. Its body ranges from pale brown underneath to darker brown upperparts. Its head and long neck are black with a white chin-strap marking.
The Canada goose is found throughout North America. In summer, its range extends from the Atlantic to the Pacific, from the High Arctic to the central United States. It also breeds along the coasts of British Columbia and the maritime provinces. Populations retreat to the southern United States and northern Mexico in winter. Populations are maintained year-round in the central United States, the eastern seaboard, and the Great Lakes.
The Canada goose forms long-term, monogamous pair-bonds, and prefers to nest in freshwater or brackish marshes, wet meadows, or on small islands. The female builds her nest on the ground near water, and often uses the same nesting area year after year. Construction materials include reeds, dry grass, moss, sticks, aquatic vegetation, and, when incubation begins, a down lining. Four to seven white eggs are laid, and are incubated by the female for 25 to 30 days. The young are precocial, feeding and moving about by themselves, but still spend 40 to 73 days with both parents.
The Canada goose is an herbivore, grazing on the seeds, roots, and shoots of grasses and sedges. It will also eat plant bulbs, berries, and grain, and occasionally also insects, crustaceans, and mollusks. Young birds eat the same foods as their parents.
The Canada goose is highly territorial during the breeding season. If an intruder enters the nesting territory, one or both parents bend their necks in an S-shape, spread their wings, and hiss loudly. Intruders that don't take the hint may be bitten or beaten viciously with the goose's wings.