• BirdForum is the net's largest birding community dedicated to wild birds and birding, and is absolutely FREE!

    Register for an account to take part in lively discussions in the forum, post your pictures in the gallery and more.

Canada Goose - BirdForum Opus

Photo © by Josef
Cayon Lake, Rapid City, South Dakota, USA
Branta canadensis

Identification

Length 75–112 cm (29–44 in), wingspan 145–180 cm, weight 3–5 kg

  • Light (eastern & central subspecies) to dark (western subspecies) brown body
  • Black neck and head with white chinstrap
  • Breast lighter than the rest of the body
  • White vent
  • Black tail
  • Large (4.1–5.7 cm) black bill

Similar species

Cackling Goose has very similar plumage pattern and colour, but differs in smaller overall size (60–70 cm), and most importantly, a small, stubby bill (2.8–3.8 cm bill length), in these features being more like Barnacle Goose.

Distribution

North America (Canada, United States, Greenland, and reaching northernmost Mexico in winter).

Vagrant in western Europe (Iceland, Ireland, Great Britain; involving B. c. interior, B. c. canadensis and B. c. parvipes) and eastern Asia (northeastern Russia, Japan, northeastern China).

Widespread feral populations, mostly of B. c. canadensis, throughout much of Europe and in New Zealand, derived from escapes or releases from wildfowl collections.

Juveniles
Photo © by Daddylion
Grand Rapids, Michigan, June, 2009

Taxonomy

Four very small, short-billed subspecies formerly included in Canada Goose were split as a separate species Cackling Goose in 2004, when genetic data showed they were more closely related to Barnacle Goose than to Canada Goose.

Subspecies

Photo © by Macswede
Hornborgasjön, Sweden, March, 2010

Seven subspecies are currently accepted[1][2]:

  • B. c. canadensis - Atlantic Canada Goose
  • B. c. interior - Hudson Bay Canada Goose
  • B. c. maxima - Giant Canada Goose
  • Breeds in interior eastern United States and southeastern Canada
  • B. c. moffitti - Great Basin Canada Goose
  • Breeds in interior western United States and southwestern Canada
  • B. c. parvipes - Lesser Canada Goose
  • Breeds in central Alaska and interior northwestern Canada
  • B. c. occidentalis - Dusky Canada Goose
  • Breeds in coastal Alaska (Anchorage region)
  • B. c. fulva - Vancouver Canada Goose

The exact subspecies breeding ranges are becoming difficult to define due to extensive overlap and interbreeding between the subspecies following population increases in the 20th century. Wintering ranges are even more difficult to define, with considerable mixing between the subspecies. In general, migration follows a leapfrog pattern, with the northernmost breeding birds (e.g. central Alaska) migrating the furthest south (as far as northern Mexico), while birds breeding at the southern edge of the breeding range (e.g. Tennessee) only migrate short distances if at all.

Populations of B. c. maxima came close to extinction in the early 1900s due to over-hunting, but have now recovered fully, helped by extensive reintroductions[2].

Habitat

Typically wetlands and farmland, occasionally urban settings.

Behaviour

Breeding

The nest is placed near water. The clutch of 3-8 eggs is laid in a shallow depression lined with plant material and down. Incubation takes 25–28 days.

Diet

The diet includes green vegetation, grains, aquatic plants, sometimes small insects and fish.

Vocalisation

Male and female pair off with ahonk and hink, respectively, while in flight.

Listen in an external program

References

  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2016. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2016, with updates to August 2016. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Sibley, D. (2004). Distinguishing Cackling and Canada Goose.
  3. Wikipedia
  4. "Canada Goose" types in Greenland

Recommended Citation

External Links


Top