Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Good Gosh Geese 😧

Canada geese are famously among the most well-known and widespread birds — despite this fact, they don't have many human fans. 

That's because anyone who has lived near or visited an area these geese frequent knows WHY.

Wherever the geese gather, they leave behind messy and abundant evidence of their presence, it's on the grass, walkways, in short — everywhere. 

Even though geese these are migratory birds, many will remain in the same place year long. 

Because they have everything they need: water, grassy areas, few natural predators in these spots and most often a number of humans willing to feed them. 

There's a burgeoning population here in Nashua, NH.

The mill apartments we live in are along the Nashua River, and this area has become a year-round home for the Canada geese. At this time of year, their numbers have been going up because it's time to raise a family. 
Most geese begin breeding at 2 or 3 years of age and nest every year for the rest of their lives, which is a very long time considering that the average life span of a Canada goose is between 10 to 25 years.

Canada goose is the common name for the species Branta canadensis. This name comes from the species being mainly distributed in Canada and the northern U.S. Branta was a Latinized form of Old Norse Brandgás, translated to burnt (black) goose and canadensis is a thought to be a Neo-Latin word meaning from Canada.
It's correct to call this bird Canada goose, just don't call it a Canadian goose, which could be any goose from Canada. Now, that it's adapted to live all across the U.S. even Mexico, calling it a North American or Mexican goose would be just as incorrect.

As with any bird, the official name is its Latin name which is the same worldwide. The species name for this goose is Branta canadensis which became known as a Canada goose. 
Some species are named after people, in this case it's an urban legend that this goose was named for John Canada, an ornithologist and taxidermist, who's said to have separated the species from other geese. No record of anyone by that name exists in either profession, so this legend, while popular, remains unproven.
A mated pair will raise one brood each year. The female will lay five to six eggs and incubate for up to 4 weeks in late spring, while the male keeps watch on the nest. Eggs hatch in late April to June, depending on location. The largest family size we've seen here is six young goslings. 

Adult geese are fearless parents who can be mean when there's a threat, actions like stretching their neck hissing and honking loudly serve as a warning, sometimes biting and slapping their wings; attack is also possible. Not surprisingly, they're protecting their territory and family. 

Geese aren't necessarily any more aggressive than other birds. Humans have more encounters with them because we live alongside them. When that happens, the best policy to avoid an encounter with an angry male goose is to steer clear, walk slowly and give them a wide berth.

The goose in this photo was hissing at another group of geese that it perceived as being too close.

Goslings get flying lessons at two to three months and stay with their parents for the first year, and can even migrate with them. As they mature and become more independent, they go with other juveniles in groups, known as gang broods, which can consist of up to 100 goslings, just like teenagers ? 

Within 2 to 3 years, most will seek a partner, a search called assortative mating, which means they look for a mate similar to themselves in size. Humans similarly mate with those resembling themselves in many ways, a process known as positive assortative mating (PAM).
Unlike many species, geese are monogamous and bond for life. If a partner dies, the remaining goose will try to find a new one within the same breeding season and often in the location.
Canada goslings are very captivating when young
And change very quickly as they grow up
There's a continuously large presence here  — w
ith food, water and safe places, not to mention a river view, there's no need to leave — life is very good in Nashua, NH.

How about where you live — are Canada Geese very populous ?


Bijoux said...

They are very populous here, though fortunately not in our neighborhood because we have no ponds. Our library is near a large pond and I’m constantly dodging geese when I pull into the parking lot.

David M. Gascoigne, said...

Thanks for this, Dorothy. They are wonderful birds and as you point out only hang around towns and cities because we have made it abundantly conducive for them to do so. Anyone who claims there are too many geese should ponder the fact the eight billion humans (increasing geometrically) have taken over most of the Earth’s natural spaces, in the process poisoning the air, soil and water. Hooray for Canada Geese, I say. But that will not surprise you.

Ginny Hartzler said...

You got great photos, especially of the chicks. We have a lot of them here, and they stay all year. I have had them stretch their necks and hiss at us. I enjoy watching them though. Your info is so good, some of it I did not know!

My name is Erika. said...

Those goslings are so cute. And I agree with David. Who owns this earth, just us or all life? However, they can be a nuisance from our perspective.Happy Wednesday. hugs-Erika

Debby said...

Yes we do. But they fly up and down the river and their droppings do not accumulate as they do around a pond. Lucky us!

Tom said...

...I like Canada geese, but they sure are prolific.

Boud said...

They love where I live too. They're here in the thousands, largely because our high water table forces retention ponds, to avoid flooding. Lovely grasses, water, nesting sites, they flourish. And we can't use several local parks because of the paths deep in droppings, sigh.

gigi-hawaii said...

These geese don't migrate to Hawaii. But, I liked looking at your pictures. Didn't know they are monogamous. Interesting.

Barbara Rogers said...

We sure have Canada Geese here around our various ponds...and people bring their kids to see them. There are signs posted to not feed them, which used to be the most fun for little ones, throwing them bread crumbs. It made them very sick and we had to see (not fun for little ones) sick geese around for a while.

kathyinozarks said...

Great post, I love the Canada geese they are here on lake in the ozarks so fun to watch the little ones. at the woods home we had a pair but they did migrate away and return enjoyed them

Marie Smith said...

Canada geese overwintered here the last few years. We had an area where we watched a few breeding pairs and their offspring every spring but the area dried up and the geese disappeared. We haven’t found a new place to watch them yet. Great shots of the goslings!

Rita said...

Everyone calls them Canadian Geese around here in the Upper Midwest. I have honestly never heard them called Canada Geese in Minnesota, Wisconsin, or North Dakota. It would sound weird--lol!

I used to work in a factory where the geese hung out all over the parking lot because there was a pond nearby. Your car would literally slide around on the slimy huge poo all across the parking lot because it couldn't get any traction! Walking across the parking lot was a challenge. You took your shoes off when you got home from work BEFORE you went inside and had to bring an extra pair of shoes with to work, too. No point in cleaning your "sh*t shoes" until they left for the year. Luckily the factory was kind of in the country and nobody was feeding them so they did actually leave once the kids could fly. They are beautiful birds and the babies are really cute...from a distance...a good distance. ;)

Jeanie said...

Well, you know we have geese! And I do love them (everywhere except on my beach at the lake!). We have them both places and of course you have seen pix of my goslings. I look forward to their birth every year. I loved all the photos you shared here. Especially the babies and close-ups. And I learned a lot about them, too! They are messy (well, we've all gotta go somewhere!) but beautiful, too.

photowannabe said...

We have plenty of them around here too. There is a pond a few blocks over from us..perfect habitat for them.
They are so messy that the near by park isn't too pleasant to walk in any more.
Their Goslings are so cute though.
Terrific photos

Emma Springfield said...

Aren't the little ones adorable? You would never believe they would mature into such vicious and messy creatures.

Kathy G said...

These geese are all over my area! I usually see them by some type of water source, but other times they are in a parking lot far from water.

Anvilcloud said...

As you might guess, and as I have shown to some degree, we have them in abundance. I have been thinking that there must be a huge mortality rate amongst them, or we would even have many more.

diane b said...

Amazingly beautiful photos of the geese especially the goslings. We don't have any here as faras I know.

Barwitzki said...

No, we don't have them. Thank you for your detailed report and the wonderful photos.
I'm excited about the Branta canadensis... There's something longing about birds, if only because they can move in the air without any aids - maybe they're superior to us :-))
You have shown a very good mix. Thanks.

MadSnapper said...

the babies are so beautiful. we have only a few here, more in the winter, but even then not a lot of them. my doctors office has a pond in front and there are 5 that live there. they are mean for sure and I stay away from them. we don't have a lot of geese but we do have a lot of ducks and they are just as messy. we are used to messy because there are flocks of ibis, 20 to 40 at a time and they are everywhere, getting worms and slugs out of grass.. the worst for us at our house are the grackles, our pool deck is a mess.. its not there fault, we took their habitat and still are taking it...

Linda G. said...

Canada Geese are in my neighborhood and abundant in our town, as well as surrounding towns. We have a river, creeks, and lakes.

Linda P said...

I like seeing the Canada geese when they are swimming in the water with their goslings.

Christina said...

Those goslings are very cute! I adore baby water birds. I am fairly certain we had a pair of Canada geese on our local pond this spring but they have since departed. They are very messy indeed, I was doing some poop avoidance hopping dance walk across a park in Chicago last autumn.

Ludwig said...

You have wonderful photos here, and your article is great.
Down here in Georgia we have many permanent residents and many more come here for the winters.
Some of our ponds have resident turtles. Turtles will grab goslings by their feet and drag them under. I don't know it they eat the drowned goslings. A few years ago I was following a Canada goose family. About half of the goslings did not make it. That pond did not have any breeding couple last time I checked.

Veronica Lee said...

I didn't know about their monogamous nature or the details of their nesting habits, so thanks for sharing those insights.
It's fascinating how adaptable they are to urban environments despite being migratory birds.

Beautiful photos, Dorothy!

Lowcarb team member said...

Thank you for sharing these photographs, the little ones are just so cute aren't they!

All the best Jan

MARY G said...

I live in Eastern Ontario, so, yeah, we have them. We lived in Ottawa for a while under one of their flyways to the Ottawa River at dusk and away again at dawn. It is amazing, though, to see a skein go through against a full moon - they will fly at night if it is bright enough.
I found them in England ornamenting a pond in London m any years ago and thought to myself, not smart guys. I now read that they have naturalized in southern England.

Jenny Woolf said...

It must be so much fun to see them raising their families - do you get to have close ups from your home or do they tend to stay at ground level except when migrating? We are always happy to see and hear Canada Geese flying overhead here in England, they're not VERY often seen and are a most wonderful sight when they appear! I do understand how difficult it must be to live where there are many of them... they are big birds and produce a lot of mess.....but I do agree with David. To be honest, the more I see of nature the more wonderful the complexity and interactiveness of it is.