Canada Geese Journal

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Canada Geese (Branta canadensis)

The insistent, musical honking of Canada geese in V-shaped migratory flocks foretells the coming of fall and the return of spring. American Indians thought a severe winter could be expected if wild geese flew south in early August. The wedge-shaped formation, typical of many waterfowl, has aerodynamic and energy-saving advantages. The lead position requires the greatest energy expenditure and the leader changes periodically. Canada geese migrate by day or night. Biologists believe that migratory birds use many cues to guide their flights, including topography of the land, meteorological conditions, the sun, stars, and the Earth's magnetic field.

The Canada goose is found from the Atlantic to the Pacific coasts and from Mexico to the Arctic coast of Canada. This goose is a grazer and can live in many different habitats. It spends most of its time near rivers, lakes, or marshes, often feeding in grasslands or fields of grain.

The Canada goose usually constructs its nest on the ground near water, but sometimes nests in a tree, often in an abandoned hawk, osprey, or owl nest. The majestic bird mates for life up to 20 years or even longer! Newborns are swimming within 24 hours after hatching and feed continuously to attain growth for their upcoming southward migration. The Canada goose is among the few birds in which parents and their young remain together after the breeding season; families maintain strong bonds for nearly one year. They migrate together in fall flocks that contain other families, and each one stays together on the wintering grounds. In spring, families migrate northward and adult pairs return to the nesting territories established in previous years. Then the young finally separate from their parents, forming flocks with other yearlings. They don't usually breed until three years old.

artwork and text by Steve Sierigk ©2002

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