The Canada goose is one of the ‘regulars’ that I spot on basically every walk I take at Boomer Lake. They’re year-round residents, which raise their young at the lake. When their population starts to get too large, a number of them will be caught and transported elsewhere in the state (and even out of state). Though it always seems like they find their way back to Boomer Lake within a couple of years.
Canada geese have a mixture of brown, black, tan, and white feathers. They have a black head and neck, wtih white cheeks and chinstrap. Their breast feathers are tan, while their back feathers are brown. Since they’re found throughout North America, there can be some regional differences: they’re smaller in size in the northern parts, and their feather colors are darker as you move towards the west.
The Canada goose is actually only native to North America, and has been introduced to the rest of the world starting in 1665 when it was added as an ‘ornamental species’ to the waterfowl collection of King Charles II at St. James’ Park in London. Though there have been records showing that the Canada goose can migrate across the Atlantic to northern Europe.
The Canada goose is usually only spotted in Canada during the summer months as the country makes up the majority of their breeding range.
So, while the Canada goose is native to North America, it can be found during its nesting/breeding season in a few other countries (probably having established colonies after introduction sometime after 1665).
Their habitats are diverse–but all centered on water. They can be found on lakes, ponds, bays, marshes (salt or fresh) and even fields that are close to water.
In terms of spotting them–you can either see them out on the water, or walking around feeding on the grasses/shrubs near water.
Canada geese are mainly herbivores that feed on grasses and sedges during the spring and summer, and then berries and seeds during the fall and winter. They eat aquatic plants as well, and you can sometimes see them dabbling in the water (head down and butt up in the air).
They prefer feeding in the summer on ‘manicured’ lawns with their young so that the adults have an unobstructed view of any approaching predators.
They will also eat the occasional insect, mollusk, or crustacean as well. The goslings eat a lot of insects during the first few weeks (to ensure that they’re getting enough protein).
Some other cool facts about the Canada Goose:
The female does all the incubating of the eggs while the male guards her and the nest.
The Nene (Hawaiian Goose) evolved from the Canada Goose over 500,000 years ago, when Canada Geese landed on the Hawaiian Islands.
There are at least 11 subspecies of the Canada Goose–the four smallest are now considered a separate species (the Cackling Goose).
The ‘giant’ Canada Goose was almost driven to extinction in the early 1900s, but has since made a comeback. Now it is considered a ‘nuisance’ bird in many of the urban and suburban areas stretching from central Manitoba to Kentucky.
A photography goal is to see how many subspecies I can get a picture of both within North America and then possibly in Europe.
References: https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/canada_goose; https://www.audubon.org/field-guide/bird/canada-goose