Canada geese always live in flocks, except when nesting. (Stephen Little/Flickr)
The Canada goose is a large, plump bird with a brownish back and a long, black neck. It is a common visitor to the Chesapeake Bay region from autumn through spring. Many Canada geese also live in the Bay watershed year-round.
Tan or cream breast and underparts
Long, black neck and black head with a white “chinstrap” across the chin and cheeks
Black, rounded bill
Black tail with a white, U-shaped band on the rump
Grows to an average of 45 inches, but can vary greatly in size
Wingspan of about 68 inches
Found on shallow waters along the Chesapeake Bay and creeks, lakes, ponds, marshes and reservoirs
Also frequents farm fields, parks and golf courses that are located near water
Always lives in flocks, except when nesting
Abundant throughout the Chesapeake Bay watershed year-round
Most geese migrate to the Bay region in early autumn and remain through spring before returning to their northern breeding grounds
Local resident populations stay in the region throughout the year
Feeds primarily on corn and grains in farm fields
Also eats bay grasses in the Bay’s shallows
In the water, feeds by “tipping up” its tail to submerge its head underwater
Humans hunt adult geese
Gulls, crows and other large birds may prey on eggs and young geese (called goslings)
One or more mature geese usually stands guard against predators while other geese are feeding
Flocks fly in wedge- or V-shaped formations, with older birds in front and younger birds in the back. The loud, honking flocks are often heard before they are seen.
Usually takes off from the water by running across the surface and flapping its wings. But when they are startled, Canada geese can fly straight up from the water like dabbling ducks.
Lands by holding its wings out straight and skidding onto the land or water
Can be identified in flight by its long, straight neck and white, U-shaped band on the rump
Deep, distinctive honk
Canada Goose courtesy of Pamela C. Rasmussen/Avian Vocalizations Center
Reproduction and Life Cycle:
Most Canada geese breed in the Arctic, though many now breed in the Bay region
Pairs often mate for life
The female build a nest of reeds, grass and down, usually on the ground near water. The male guards the nest against predators.
The female lays 3-9 eggs that hatch in about one month
Goslings are fluffy and yellow. They begin to fly 40-70 days after birth.
Can live as long as 20-25 years
The most widespread goose in North America
Scientists believe there are 10-11 various Canada goose races
Some consider resident Canada geese to be a nuisance because they can overgraze on lawns and crops. They also leave feces in parks, yards and other open areas, which is a significant source of pollution in many small, local waterways with large year-round goose populations.