Canadian Geese Migration

We see a variety of bird species every day with intriguing origins and ever-evolving migration routes. But, be it the wild bird migration or any other commonly found species, like the Canadian Geese migration, it is always enlightening to discover how the birds around the globe migrate in their respective seasons.

Today, let’s look in detail at this commonly found bird that also has a fascinating history to it! Yes, we’re talking about the Canadian Geese and their migration routes!

It’s important to understand that the Canadian Geese migration takes place every year, and they come back to the same place where they were born each year!

Read along to find out more about the Canadian Geese migration and the bird migration patterns!

More About the Canadian Geese

Native to the Arctic, the Canadian Geese are easy to identify with their blackhead, black face, and white cheeks with white under the chin. Being the largest of all its subspecies, the Canadian Geese are migratory birds with their migration routes ranging up to northern Europe.

An average Canadian Geese weighs from 3.2 to 6.5 kg for males and 2.5 to 5.5 for females. Their height ranges from 75 to 110 cm. Canadian Geese have seven subspecies that are distinct and identical to the basic Canadian Geese. Other four species have been recognized, which belong to the genes of Canadian Geese but look much like the Cackling Goose.

On any regular day, you can find these birds on or near freshwater bodies. Even though these are considered to be waterfowls, Geese mostly spend their time on the ground feeding. As the temperature in their natural habitats generally drops during winters, the Canadian Geese migrate from their habitats to regions with a higher temperature to sustain these times.

Fascinating History

Did you know that the Canadian Geese were going extinct a few years back? Looking at the large numbers of Canadian Geese now, no one would believe this fact. In the late 19th and early 20th century, this species was declared extinct because of lesser habitats. Overhunting during those times also resulted in fewer and fewer numbers of Canadian Geese.

People believed that these species were extinct until someone noticed a little flock of Canadian Geese in 1962! With a lot of special efforts, breeding, and research centers, the population of Canadian Geese was increased, and then small flocks were released countrywide.

With revised hunting laws and reserved areas, soon in 1982, we had almost 6000 Canadian Geese roaming the boundaries, and a species nearing extinction was saved.

That’s all you should know about the Canadian Geese. Let’s take a look at Canadian Geese migration now. But before diving into the details, let’s first take a look at what is the meaning of migration.

What Does Migration Mean?

Migration is a time of the year when particular species of birds move from one place to another. The movement generally takes place north to south on a migration map.

Migration is mostly food-driven and often takes place in the winter season. Due to the decrease in the number of insects, worms, and other regular prey for the birds, many bird species migrate from one country to the other in search of appropriate resources and food. Living and nesting locations are also prime drivers in bird migration maps.

However, all the birds tend to have different migration routes, drivers, regions, and effects. This is why it is essential to understand the migration patterns of various birds individually. Read along to understand more about the Canadian Geese migration now.

Canadian Geese Migration

The Canadian Geese migration also has specific patterns and routes. However, it is essential to note that not all Canadian Geese migrate. Only some of the Geese travel in the spring and fall seasons, and those who migrate are generally the ones that originated in Canada. The others are year-round residents of Canada and do not typically fly to other places unless they are forced by harsh weather or other such conditions.

The Canadian Goose migration map has two territories demarcated. One is the set of breeding sites, and the other is called the non-breeding sites. The breeding sites lie to the north of the migration map, and at the south, we have the non-breeding sites.

Canada Goose migration takes place twice a year, in September or October to the south and anytime from April to June to the north of their territory. Generally, in the initial months of the year, the geese migration is influenced by their instincts, and the latter part is due to the weather.

As April to June is also the breeding season of Canadian Geese, these birds migrate towards
the north, where their breeding sites lie. The temperature and nesting locations in the north are
ideal for the goslings.

The Canadian Geese mate for life, and one can often spot these geese migration during April and September. You can find Geese easily in their identical V formation flock.

In September and October, the geese migration takes place to avoid the cold in the north. At this point, the Geese travel to the South of the migration map.

Another prime reason for Canadian Geese Migration is molting. Molting is the period of a few months right after the goslings are hatched. After their breeding season, Canadian Geese go through the molting phase.

In this phase, the birds shed their flying feathers to gain new ones. As a result, they cannot fly for six long weeks. This generally happens in summer every year, and the birds need to walk everywhere they want to go. At these times, the geese Migration occurs to places where nearby resources are available with less walking distance for them.

Regions of Geese Migration

As mentioned earlier, the Canadian Geese that migrate originate from Canada. Canadian Geese migration has a wide range and kind of extreme boundaries! We do not know for sure how these birds select their territories and living locations, but it’s clear from the research that the Geese migration is always to particular places.

Canadian Geese migration is like a planned trip. The geese know precisely where they are going and which are their halting stations. So if you miss the geese in your area, they will probably come back exactly where they used to live! How awesome is that?

So typically speaking, the Canadian Geese migration map can go from the southern US in the south to northern Alaska in the north or sometimes even the Arctic! Geese migration mostly unfolds over these exact places.

Geese traveling to the South US for winter do so by the Mississippi and Atlantic migration route. Some of the flocks spend their winter time in Canada. You can typically find them in the Maritime province, southwestern Ontario, and British Columbia.

According to the migration map, residents in Toronto move towards rural Ontario during the winters.

Many of the bird migration patterns are also influenced due to the process of molting. Birds from the northeastern United States and Toronto tend to migrate to spend their molting days at a more comfortable place. Northeastern United States origin birds migrate towards north Ontario, and the Geese migration from Toronto takes place to James Bay.

  • Canada Goose

Behavior of Canadian Geese

The Canadian Geese are mostly harmless to humans and will not cause any problems. They do not make much noise unless they are in a huge flock. Most of the times when the Geese tend to get aggressive is if humans interfere with their nests and goslings. Otherwise, as long as you leave them alone, they leave you alone.

The goslings are adorable. They can walk and swim almost immediately after they are born. Their parents lead them to the water bodies or grassy areas for feeding. Due to this habit of following their parents, the little goslings sometimes mistakenly follow other animals as well as humans!

During the Canadian Geese migration, one can spot a strong member of the flock leading the distinct V shape. They also tend to communicate with each other through different noises, even while flying.

Feeding of Canadian Geese

Being herbivorous, the geese chiefly graze and primarily feed on grass and weed. Mowed grass is easy for the goslings to feed on, which is why finding a Canadian Geese family on residential gardens is pretty common.

One can also find them feeding on fish or small invertebrates a few times. During fall and winter, Canadian Geese can eat high-calorie foods like corn or soybeans in the fields. The high amount of energy in these foods helps them to sustain cold temperatures. Canadian Geese also typically graze on wheat fields in the winters.

During summers, the Canadian Geese prefer to eat aquatic vegetation, which provides them with the hydration required in heavy summers. The Geese prefer succulents, aquatic grass, and forbs during this time.

Geese that are residents in urban or suburban areas prefer to graze at open lawns or mowed lawns so that they can predict potential dangers or predatory bird attacks easily.

Nesting of Canadian Geese

You can find Canadian Geese near freshwater bodies. Geese are incredibly protective of their nests. One can typically find goose nests anytime between March and May. The female Goose cares for the hatched eggs while the male finds food resources.

The egg-laying takes place at 1.5-day intervals, after which the incubation period starts. After 28 days, the goslings hatch and then their parents train them.

Ideal nesting areas for the Canadian Geese generally lie near freshwater bodies. Geese prefer to nest in places that provide a shed near water. It could be at the base of mature trees, artificial nesting structures, under shrubs, or places with thick aquatic vegetation like cattails. One can often spot Canadian Geese at rooftops in urban or suburban areas.

An interesting belief among people says that the Canadian Geese use generational nests! This means that the nests used by the parent Geese will be used by the goslings when they grow up and so on until the nests are destroyed!

Evolution of Canadian Geese Migration

The bird migration patterns differ from species to species. Canadian Geese migration is not an instinctive process. With the number of wildlife reserves and protected areas established for the Canadian Geese, there is no need for the Geese to migrate.

Canadian Geese migration is a learned process. The Geese tend to learn migration maps and bird migration patterns from the elders in the flock. However, while reserving these birds through research and experiments, there were no elders to teach the next generations about migration routes.

This is why nowadays we face a problem where there is an overpopulation of the Canadian Geese at some places, and due to a large number of flocks, there is constant noise, and coexisting becomes difficult.

According to current data, there are around 8 million Canadian Geese in the US. However, the mortality rate of the Canadian Geese is quite low even now. The lifespan of a Canadian Geese is 10-24 years, but the mortality rate of an adult goose is less compared to a first-year Goose. Almost all of the birds that are native to North America do not migrate and are causing problems to the citizens near their habitats.

Final Words

With unique behavioral and bird migration patterns, the Canadian Geese are easy to find and identify. Actively visible in entire North America, Canadian Geese migration forms a specific migration map. Their reasons for migration, behavior, and above all, their unique history are what sets them apart from the others.

The ever-evolving nature of the birds has resulted in a decrease in their classic nature of migration while the migratory Geese have developed their migration routes.

It’s about time for new research centers to be built so the people can visit and learn about the non-migratory Canadian Geese. This will not just help the birds but also make coexisting with them easier. You can set goals to bird-watch for these Cranes and record your results. 


Please Share to Help Us Get Kids Bird Watching