Today, July 1, is Canada Day. It’s a holiday that celebrates the Constitution Act of 1867, when the colonies of Canada, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia became one dominion called Canada. I’ve never celebrated this holiday (being from the USA), but I have some Canadian readers, so happy Canada Day to you! Since this is a bird blog, I thought it would be fun to talk about a bird that bears the country’s name: the Canada Goose. So in addition to regular Canada Day, Happy Canada Goose Day!
Just like the Turkey Vulture, I believe the Canada Goose is underappreciated. Because let’s face it, if you live in the Northern part of the United States, Canada Geese are everywhere. It seems like they’ve taken over our suburbs. Usually when I go bird watching they are the species that I get the highest count from. Some people even consider Canada Geese to be pests. I think because Canada Geese are so common people tend to overlook them. So since it’s Canada (Goose) Day here are some fun facts about Canada Geese.
- Canada Geese can be found in many habitats, but prefers to stay near water such as lakes, marshes, and ponds. You can find them in open fields as well as suburban habitats.They also like well-manicured lawns. There are two reasons for this: because it’s easy to eat digest the grass and because they can easily see predators.
- Mating pairs are monogamous and they usually mate for life. Canada Geese practice “assortative mating”, meaning a goose will choose a mate that is around the same size. Both sexes practice assortative mating.
- Many Canada Geese will not breed until around their 4th year.
- Canada Geese are family-oriented and live in large flock most of the year. If you see a Canada Goose flock it is likely that they are related to one another. Young geese, or goslings, usually stay with their parents for at least a year. Sometimes if there are many groups of goslings, all the adults will watch the goslings together. This is called a “crèche”.
- Some Canada Geese are residents, while others are long-distance migrants. Canada Geese that do migrate for a “V” shape in flight. More experienced Canada Geese will take turns leading the flock. Geese that do migrant breed in Canada in the summers and winter in the Southern United States and Northern Mexico.
- There are 11 subspecies of Canada Geese. The four smallest subspecies are now considered a separate species: the Cackling Goose. Cackling Geese are much smaller and have tiny triangular bills. As you move northward Canada Geese tend to get smaller in size. Their plumage tends to get darker as you move westward.
A personal fun fact: There is a very well-loved convenience store in my area called Wawa, whose logo is the Canada Goose. The Native Americans of the Delaware Valley called Canada Geese wawa, which is why the store uses the goose as its logo. Wawa convenience stores are just as widespread here in South Jersey as Canada Geese are. At my local Wawa, there are always Canada Geese hanging out around the parking lot. I think it’s funny when they all get in a line and cross the street to hang out at the Wawa. It’s almost like that know the store is named for them :-).