canadensis [bran' tuh kan uh den' sis]
The Canada goose is a large (up to nine
pounds) gray-brown bird with black head and neck
and a white patch extending from the chin, up the
cheeks, to behind the eyes. The tail is black,
while the feathers around the base of the tail
are white. The white patch and tail coloration
are what distinguish the Canada goose from other
geese. Both sexes are similarly colored.
Goslings are yellow, with some greenish-gray
colorings on the top of the head and back.
Distribution and Habitat
Canada geese live in Alaska, Canada, and the
northern parts of the United States, migrating
southwards as far as the Gulf of Mexico in
winter. They are also found on many country
estates in the British Isles, where they were
introduced in the 17th century. Canada geese
frequent grasslands, lakes, marshlands and
parklands, although they are also occasionally
found on estuaries and seashores.
Most Canada geese mate for life, forming pairs
during migration or on wintering grounds. The
female chooses the location for nesting, and it
is not uncommon for her to build the nest without
any input or help from the male. The nest is
usually a simple depression dug into the ground
and lined with vegetation. Once the eggs are
laid, the female will line the nest with feathers
and down to provide insulation.
Egg laying begins as early as March and
continues into June, depending on geographic
location. Each egg takes about a day and a half
to be laid. The average clutch contains five
eggs, but there may be as few as two and as many
as nine. They are incubated by the female for 25
to 28 days, with the male standing guard
throughout the incubation period. Goslings are
able to swim and feed soon after hatching, and
are fully grown at six weeks.
When on land, Canada geese eat a variety of
grasses, as well as wheat, beans, rice, and corn.
In the water, they upend themselves and slide
their bills across the bottom silt, from which
they gather a variety of aquatic plants. They
will also take worms, insects, snails,
crustaceans, and some small fish.
Habits and Behaviors
Canada geese are rarely found alone. They fly
in flocks in the form of a "V" or a
diagonally straight line. They migrate at a slow
pace, stopping frequently along the way.
genus & species Branta canadensis
Animal Diversity Web http://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Branta_canadensis/
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