The Canada Goose

Branta canadensis

Fast Facts

Common Name: Canada Goose

Scientific Name: Branta canadensis

Size: Both sexes measure about 36 inches, weigh about 15 pounds, and have a wingspan or 4 to 6 feet

Diet: Wild food plants include pondweed, bulrush, sedge, cattail, horsetail, and clover. They also eat some insects, snails, and tadpoles. Geese are particularly attracted to mowed lawns around homes, golf courses, parks, and similar areas next to open water.

Average Lifespan: They can live more than 20 years in urban areas but in the wild they have a much shorter lifespan due to predation. Predators include coyotes, raccoons, skunks, bobcats, and foxes, gulls, eagles, crows, ravens, and magpies.

Photo by Crystal Jo on Unsplash


The Canada Goose is the most widely distributed goose in North America. They nest in Canada, Alaska, and all of the lower 48 states. They are strong swimmers, flyers, and divers. Once every year, typically during warm weather, geese will molt their feathers and will be unable to fly for a period of about 6 weeks. During this time they will stay close to water in order to have a means to escape predators on land. During winter and during migration, they may form flocks that contain over 1000 birds. They find mates when they are around two years old, and pairs stay together for the rest of their lives.

Photo by Jeffrey Hamilton on Unsplash

The plural of Canada goose is Canada geese. Careful not to get mixed up, the term “Canadian geese” could be used to describe any type of goose found in Canada – not just Canada geese!

The Big Honker

Canada geese are known for their “honking” call and most are very vocal in flight. Scientists have identified 13 different calls including honking, barking, snoring, purring, hissing, and cackling.

Did you know?

  • The oldest Canada Goose was 33 years
  • Gang broods are bands of up to 100 goslings – like a big kindergarten with the adults sharing the babysitting duties
  • At 1 day old, they can dive 30-40 feet
  • Goslings often mistake other animals for their mothers and will follow them

Photo by Bellava G on Unsplash