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< >  Branta canadensis - Canada goose (Click photographs/illustrations: full picture & further details)
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INFORMATION AVAILABLE

GENERAL & REFERENCES

EXTERNAL APPEARANCES

REPRODUCTION

BEHAVIOUR

NATURAL DIET

RANGE & HABITAT

CONSERVATION

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General and References

Alternative Names (Synonyms)

Cackling Goose
Canadian Goose
Hutchin's goose
Bernache du Canada (French)
Kanadagans (German)
Barnacla canadiense (Spanish)
Ganso del Canada (Spanish)
Canadese Gans (Dutch)
Kanadagås (Swedish)
Atlantic Canada Goose Branta canadensis canadensis
Aleutian Canada Goose Branta canadensis leucopareia
Cackling Canada Goose Branta canadensis minima
Taverna Canada Goose Branta canadensis taverneri
Dusky Canada Goose Branta canadensis occidentalis
Vancouver Canada Goose Branta canadensis fulva
Lesser Canada Goose Branta canadensis parvipes
Moffitt Canada Goose Branta canadensis moffitti
Great Basin Canada Goose Branta canadensis moffitti
Giant Canada Goose Branta canadensismaxima
Baffin Island Canada Goose Branta canadensis hutchinsii
Richardson Canada Goose Branta canadensis hutchinsii
Hudson Bay Canada Goose Branta canadensis interior
Bering Canada Goose B .c. asiatica (Extinct.)

Names for newly-hatched

Gosling, downy.

Names for non-breeding males or other colour-phases

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References

Species Author

Debra Bourne

Major References

B1, B2, B3, B4, B8, B19, B25, B26.

Other references:
B38

ORGANISATIONS
(UK Contacts)

ELECTRONIC LIBRARY
(Further Reading)
Click image for full contents list of ELECTRONIC LIBRARY

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TAXA Group (where information has been collated for an entire group on a modular basis)

Parent Group

Specific Needs Group referenced in Management Techniques

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Aviculture Information

Notes

General information:
  • Northern (True) Geese are generally hardy and easy to manage. They are usually gregarious and many species may be kept in flocks, however they tend to be territorial and aggressive in the breeding season and some may need to be maintained in separate pens. It is often possible to keep small ducks with pairs of geese, unless the individual goose pair is particularly pugnacious. They should always be provided with adequate water for swimming.
  • For a single pair of geese a total pen area of 300m² (or 200m² for smaller species, e.g. Branta ruficollis - Red-breasted goose), with at least 20% of this area water is suggested, although more water should be provided if possible in a larger pen (D1).
  • Geese are grazers and should have access to good short grass (less than 3 inches, 7.5cm long) for grazing. When grass is scarce, it may be supplemented with greenfood such as cabbage, lettuce etc.; alfalfa pellets have also been used for this purpose. Additional grain and pellets should be given, with a change to breeder pellets in the breeding season, at which time less or no grain may be fed. Breeding success may be decreased if these species are allowed to become too fat and this can be problematic particularly for the species which normally breed in the high Arctic.
  • Goslings may be parent hatched and reared, although being mainly terrestrial they are more vulnerable to predation than are cygnets. Whether parent or hand-reared, goslings should be provided with unlimited grazing and other green food such as chopped lettuce, as well as starter crumbs.
  • Geese species may hybridise with one another, but this is not usually a problem if they are well paired before being mixed with other birds.

(B7, B29, B30, B40, B94, B95, B108, B128.w1, B129, D1)

Species-specific information:

  • The aggression level of Canada geese appears to vary greatly between the sub-species (D1). Larger types may be aggressive, particularly in the breeding season while defending nesting area, to geese and swans, but they usually leave ducks alone; a separate pen is suggested for nesting. (J23.13.w7).
  • These geese are generally winter-hardy and easy to manage; they may be kept in a flock in sufficient space. The large forms are particularly suitable for large parks with meadows adjoining large lakes. They will usually remain at the site they are reared without being flight-restricted. Good grazing will provide most of their food, although wheat, pellets, green food and bread should also be provided.
  • Most subspecies are easy or fairly easy to breed, although Todd's (Interior) and Aleutian Canada gees are more difficult. They use natural ground cover - open or close cover - for nesting; they may also use a kennel/wigwam and may nest in reeds. Hutchinson's geese prefer boxes, especially on islands. They may start laying from early March (Slimbridge, UK), although Hutchinsons' Canada geese frequently wait until May (B31). Lay March to June (Atlantic and Giant Canada geese), May to June (Aleutian Canada geese), April to June other subspecies (B29).
  • These geese readily hybridise with Anser spp. and (may be fertile) with other Branta spp.; also reported to have hybridised with Cygnus atratus - Black swan, Cygnus buccinator - Trumpeter swan, Cygnus cygnus - Whooper swan, Cygnus olor - Mute swan, Cairina moschata - Muscovy duck and Alopochen aegyptiacus - Egyptian goose and possibly even with Anas platyrhynchos - Mallard.

(B29, B31, B96, B97.

Aviornis UK Ringing Scheme suggested average closed ring size:

  • Branta canadensis leucopareia, N 13.0mm
  • Branta canadensis hutchinsii, N 13.0mm
  • Branta canadensis minima, N 13.0mm
  • Branta canadensis asiatica),N 13.0mm
  • Branta canadensis parvipes, R 16.0mm
  • Branta canadensis taverni, R 16.0mm
  • Branta canadensis occidentalis, R 16.0mm
  • Branta canadensis fulva, S 18.0mm
  • Branta canadensis interior, S 18.0mm
  • Branta canadensis moffitti, S 18.0mm
  • Branta canadensis maxima, T 20.0mm
  • Branta canadensis canadensis, T 20.0mm

(D8).

Individual Techniques linked in Wildpro

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External Appearance (Morphology)

Measurement & Weight

Length 22-43 inches, 55-110cm (B3, B1).
Adult weight General 2059-6523g (B1)
Male Branta canadensis maxima, Branta canadensis moffitti, Branta canadensis canadensis, Branta canadensis fulva, Branta canadensis interior average 3809-6523g.

Branta canadensis parvipes, Branta canadensis occidentalis, Branta canadensis taverneri average 2241-3754g.

Branta canadensis asiatica, Branta canadensis hutchinsii, Branta canadensis minima average 2005-2041g. (B3)

Female Branta canadensis maxima, Branta canadensis moffitti, Branta canadensis canadensis, Branta canadensis fulva, Branta canadensis interior average 3310-5514g.

Branta canadensis parvipes, Branta canadensis occidentalis, Branta canadensis taverneri average 2059-3131g.

Branta canadensis asiatica, Branta canadensis hutchinsii, Branta canadensis minima average 1360-1856g (B3).

Newly-hatched weight --
Growth rate --

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Head

Adult Bill Male Black.
Variations (If present) --
Eyes (Iris) Male Dark brown.
Variations(If present) --
Juvenile Bill Black.
Eyes (Iris) Dark brown.

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Legs

Adult Male Black.
Variations (If present) --
Juvenile Black.

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Plumage

Adult Male Head and neck black with white cheek markings from throat to behind eyes.

Branta canadensis canadensis Breast and abdomen pale buff/whitish, flanks buff-brown. Upperparts brown with buff feather edges giving barring. Rump and tail black, ventral area and tail-coverts white. Wing coverts brown with paler edges, flight feathers dark brown.

Variations (If present) Variation between sub-species. General: Body variable brown, tail black, tail-coverts and ventral area white, flight feathers brown/black.

Some forms, the breast is much darker than in the form described, and general colouration of body also darker in some forms.

Juvenile Duller with brownish head and neck, pale brownish cheeks.

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Newly-hatched Characteristics

General: Upperparts, crest and hindneck olive-greenish, underparts, head and neck yellow.
Bill: Black.
Feet: Olive-green.

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Reproduction

Reproductive Season

Time of year Spring (geographical variation in dates). Begins March to April in Britain
No. of Clutches Lay again if clutch lost, repeatedly in southern races. No re-nesting in northern races.

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Nest placement and structure

On the ground, usually near water, usually in some cover. A shallow nest of vegetation with down-and-feather lining.

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Egg clutches

No. of Eggs Average 4-7 (B1); 3-5 in northern (high latitude) races, 3-9 in southern races (B8).
Range 1-12 (B1); 2-12 (B8).
Egg Description Creamy white. Size: 86 x 52mm, weight: 163g. (Branta canadensis canadensis) B3. In Britain average 220g.

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Incubation

About 24-30 days (B1); 24-28 days, shortest in high-latitude races (B8).

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Hatching

Synchronous.

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Fledging

40-86 days (B1); 40-60 days (B8).

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Sexual Maturity

Males Two to three years old.
Females Two to three years old.

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Behaviour

Feeding Behaviour

Adults Mainly grazing, also head-dipping and up-ending for aquatic plants.
Newly-hatched --

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Parental Behaviour

Nest-building Females in particular return to their place of birth to breed.
Incubation By female, with male guarding.
Newly-hatched Tended by both parents. Brooded by female when small.
Juveniles

Remain with parents until the start of the next breeding season.

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Social Behaviour

Intra-specific Gregarious. Form large flocks. Usually territorial for breeding, but tolerate close nests where suitable sites limited, including dense colonies in arctic races.
Inter-specific --

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Sexual Behaviour

Strong permanent pair bonds. Find new partner if mate is lost.

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Predation in Wild

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Activity Patterns

Feeds during the day.
Circadian Diurnal.

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Natural Diet

Adults

Basically vegetarian. Grasses, also roots, stems, leaves, and fruits of aquatic plants and sedges. In winter also grain and seaweed.

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Newly-hatched

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Range and Habitat

Distribution and Movement (Migration etc.)

Normal Branta canadensis canadensis Eastern Canada
Branta canadensis leucopareia Aleutian Islands
Branta canadensis minima coastal western Canada
Branta canadensis taverneri Alaska peninsula to Mackenzie Delta
Branta canadensis occidentalis south-western Alaska
Branta canadensis fulva Coastal southern Alaska, western British Columbia
Branta canadensis parvipes interior of Canada
Branta canadensis moffitti Canada’s Great Basin
Branta canadensis maxima coastal western Alaska
Branta canadensis hutchinsii north-central Canada
B. c .interior central and eastern Canada

Migratory: move south to southern states of USA and along North American coasts; further south and west in cold winters.

Feral populations mainly sedentary.

Occasional and Accidental

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Introduced Introduced (feral) populations well established north-west Europe including (mainly Branta canadensis canadensis) Britain, Ireland, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, France, possibly Iceland, possibly Sardinia; also (mainly Branta canadensis maxima) New Zealand (B38).

London: In the London Area, a "very common breeding resident" with hundreds of birds at some sites including more than 100 at some sites in Inner London. (J322.65.w1)

Large feral, sedentary populations also in North America

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Habitat

Variable, from open to wooded and tundra to semi-desert, but usually near water.

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Conservation

Intraspecific variation

Atlantic Canada Goose Branta canadensis canadensis
Aleutian Canada Goose Branta canadensis leucopareia
Cackling Canada Goose Branta canadensis minima
Taverna Canada Goose Branta canadensis taverneri
Dusky Canada Goose Branta canadensis occidentalis
Vancouver Canada Goose Branta canadensis fulva
Lesser Canada Goose Branta canadensis parvipes
Moffitt Canada Goose Branta canadensis moffitti
Great Basin Canada Goose Branta canadensis moffitti
Giant Canada Goose Branta canadensismaxima
Baffin Island Canada Goose Branta canadensis hutchinsii
Richardson Canada Goose Branta canadensis hutchinsii
Hudson Bay Canada Goose Branta canadensis interior
Bering Canada Goose B .c. asiatica (Extinct.)

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Conservation Status

Wild Population -
(Importance)

Species as a whole abundant. Branta canadensis leucopareia population recovered due to hunting ban and removal of introduced Arctic fox (B1).

General Legislation
  • This species is listed on Schedule 2 - Part I (Birds which may be killed or taken outside the close season, 1 February to 31 August except where indicated otherwise: Notes on the revised schedules state "NOTE: The close season for ducks and geese when below high water mark is 21 February to 31 August") of the LUK2 - Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 of the United Kingdom. (W5.Oct01)
  • This species is listed on Schedule 9 - Part 1 (Animals and plants to which Section 14 applies (ie. may not be released into or grown in the wild) ) of the LUK2 - Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 of the United Kingdom. (W5.Oct01)
CITES listing Listing not yet included.
Red-data book listing Listing not yet included.
Threats Branta canadensis occidentalis Vulnerable. Loss of habitat and hunting threaten the population (B44.9.w1).

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Captive Populations

Common in collections but some races uncommon.

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Trade

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