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Goose Facts

Resident Geese * Mating * Nesting * Goslings * Molting * Migration * Damage

Canada geese are migratory game birds that are protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and other Federal and State laws, regulations, and policies.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) along with other state agencies is responsible for managing the goose populations in the U.S.

The Canada goose is the most widely distributed goose in North America. There are two behaviorally distinct types of Canada goose populations; resident and migratory. Resident geese are those that nest and stay, basically, within a fixed area in the state and are considered "non-migratory". Migratory geese nest in Canada and move into the area from northern states and Canada beginning in the fall and remain through winter. They have a flight range of 2-3 thousand miles. In the Northeastern U.S. these geese would travel the Atlantic Flyway.

In past years, resident geese were imported to areas for rebuilding dwindling numbers for hunting or conservation. However, the urban nuisance was not anticipated. In the Northeastern U.S., the resident goose population has increased more than 3 fold since 1990.

The Resident Canada Goose

  • Life expectancy about 20 years.

  • Weight: 20-25 pounds.

  • Mates for life

  • Averages 5-6 goslings per year

  • Leaves behind 1-2 pounds of waste per day.

  • Does not migrate

  • Natural predators: foxes, raccoons, owls and snapping turtles.

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  • Mating season is February to early April.

  • Geese mate for life and will stay together during all seasons.

  • Geese will find a new mate if the mate is killed or dies.

  • Geese return to the area of their birth each year to mate and nest.

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  • Nesting season is Mid March to May.

  • Migratory geese nest in Canada.

  • Geese nesting in the U.S. are "resident" geese who were born here.

  • Geese begin to nest at the age of 2.

  • Geese will return to the exact site of the previous years nest or sometimes a nearby pond or other body of water.

  • When geese are chased from their traditional nesting area or the nesting area has too many nesting pairs, they find alternative sites to nest sometimes farther from water, sometimes in nearby ponds, sometimes on rooftops or balconies.

  • Geese prefer isolated sites on the ground, near water, and will hide their nests.

  • Geese will appear in pairs during nesting season. A solitary goose typically indicates that a nest is in the vicinity and "he" is standing guard.

  • The average number of eggs in a nest is 6. However, there can be as many as 10-12.

  • A mother goose will typically lay 1 egg per day and will not begin incubation until all eggs are laid.

  • Incubation time is 28 30 days.

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  • All eggs in the nest hatch on approximately the same day.

  • The goslings will be able to fly in 2-3 months.

  • During the maturing time the adult geese do not leave the area.

  • The geese will attack humans while protecting their young.

  • The maturing period of the goslings overlaps with the molting season for the adults.

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  • Molting season runs from early June to late July.

  • Adult geese lose wing feathers during this time and are unable to fly.

  • Geese can fly again approximately 6 weeks after molting.

  • Generally by August all geese (except those injured) are able to fly.

  • During the molt geese need to be near water (any water) for easy escape from predators.

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  • Migration season is October through March.

  • Migratory geese flight range can be 2 3 thousand miles.

  • Migratory geese do not become resident geese unless they are injured.

  • Resident geese do not know how to migrate.

  • Resident geese can fly long distances as their migratory cousins, but generally have learned that it is not necessary.

  • Generally, during this time (from end of molt to beginning to mating) resident geese will be "pond hopping" and foraging to find food, water and safety. Although, resident geese have a flight range of 100-200 miles, they typically stay within a smaller radius.

  • Migratory geese will "pond hop" and forage during this same period until their migration habits take them back north for matting.

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  • Goose feces damage property, compromise overall "quality of life", and have the potential to pose serious health threats due to the presence of disease-causing organisms.

  • Overgrazing of lawns and recreational areas.

  • Aggression and human injury during nesting season.

  • Crop depredation to corn, soybeans, winter wheat, rye, clover, sod, vegetables and other crops. Reduces yield and increases erosion.

  • Can pose a serious flight safety hazard at airports. Due to their large body size, flocking behaviors and relative abundance have the potential to be involved in bird-aircraft strikes.

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Resident Geese * Mating * Nesting * Goslings * Molting * Migration * Damage

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