Canada goose (Branta canadensis)
|Size||Wingspan: 160-175 cm (2)|
Length: 90-100 cm (2)
The Canada goose is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List (1). It is a widespread introduced species in the UK (3). Protected in close season. May be shot from 1 September to 31 January (to 20 February in areas below high water mark). General licence permits sale of captive-bred birds and their eggs (4).
The Canada goose (Branta canadensis) was introduced to England around 300 years ago. It is now the most familiar goose in Britain (3). This large goose has a long black neck, and a black head with a prominent white patch, which forms a strap around the throat that extends onto the face (2). The body is brown, with paler underparts. The sexes are similar in appearance; juveniles can be identified as the throat-strap is brownish, and the head and neck are duller (2). This vocal goose produces a range of deep honking calls (2), a loud 'aa-honk' in flight and hissing sounds when threatened (5).
After its introduction as an ornamental species, the Canada goose did not spread away from parks and stately homes until after the Second World War (3). It has since increased greatly in numbers, and its range has expanded throughout Britain (3), although it is not as common in Scotland and Wales (5). Its natural range occurs throughout Canada and northern USA. It has also been introduced to Ireland, Sweden, Finland and Norway (5).
In Britain, the Canada goose can be found on ornamental lakes, as well as ponds and flooded grasslands (5) and reservoirs, gravel pits, canal and river banks (6). In North America it inhabits lakes and marshes in wooded areas (5).
This goose feeds on aquatic vegetation and grasses. It has become an agricultural pest in some areas where it moves from water bodies to fields in order to feed (3). Although often aggressive, this goose is gregarious, occurring in flocks during winter and breeding colonially on larger water bodies (5).
The nest, a down-lined scrape, is typically situated among vegetation (5). During early April between 5 and 6 (up to 11) white eggs are laid. The female incubates the eggs for 28 to 30 days, while the male guards the nest close-by (5). Both sexes care for the young, which fledge after around nine weeks, and stay with the parents throughout the winter (5).
The Canada goose is not currently threatened.
Conservation action has not been targeted at the Canada goose.
For more information on the Canada goose and other bird species:
Information authenticated by the RSPB:
- Incubate: to keep eggs warm so that development is possible.
IUCN Red List (March, 2011)
- Mullarney, K., Svensson, L., Zetterstrom, D., & Grant, P.J. (1999) Collins Bird Guide. Harper Collins Publishers Ltd, London.
- Lack, P. (1986) The Atlas of Wintering Birds in Britain and Ireland. T. & A. D. Poyser Ltd, Calton.
- RSPB (2003) Pers. comm.
- Gooder, J. (1982) Collins British Birds. William Collins Sons and Co Ltd, London.
- Gibbons, D.W., Reid, J.B. & Chapman, R.A. (1993) The New Atlas of Breeding Birds in Britain and Ireland: 1988-1991. Poyser, London.