If you’ve spent any time around local city parks or golf courses, chances are you’ve seen a flock of Canada Geese grazing the area. This bird is a large goose with a grey-brown body, a long black neck with white cheeks and a white chinstrap. If seen in flight, listen for their characteristic “honk”, or look for their v-shaped flying formation.
There are believed to be as many as eleven races of Canada Geese, each distinct by their size. The largest, as their name would suggest, is the Giant Canada Goose which weighs about 8 kg.
Canada Geese can be found on the Fraser River delta all year, where resident goose populations are joined by migratory ones in the spring and fall. Farming practices which leave excess waste grain throughout the fall and winter may be the reason why some Canada Goose migrations are no longer going so far south.
These geese spend the majority of their time in large open areas near open water bodies, where they spend up to twelve hours a day foraging for food. Canada geese enjoy feeding on plant material, grasses such as Winter Cover Crops and waste crops and grains from agricultural fields.
When it’s time to breed in early March or April, Canada geese will often return to the place they were raised, or to the place they raised their own brood the year before. They mate for life, and perform a unique mating selection known as “assortative” mating, whereby both sexes will choose a mate of comparable size.
Canada geese are also highly communicative; young goslings will begin chattering away to their parents while they are within the egg! They are a strong family unit where the goslings will stick together with their parents for a full year after hatching.
In the early 1900s the Canada Goose population declined sharply. As a result, they were introduced into numerous areas and were protected within several wildlife refuges. These management practices led to more success than they most likely bargained for as today Canada geese are often considered pests. Their prolific feeding and fouling rate, and their attraction to the vastness of local airway strips have led them to be designated a health-hazard in certain regions.