Canadian Birds

Canadian Birds The Branta Canadensis, better known as the Canada Goose is a magnificent bird which can be found all over North America. People from all over North America look towards the sky when the Canada Geese go honking overhead in their trademark V formation, and because they nest all over Canada and some of the United States many people have a chance to witness the birds migration to the nesting grounds and back to the wintering grounds. The Canada Goose is respected by so many of us because of it’s dignity and courage and refusal to give up. Over the years the Canada Goose has picked up many slang names, some of these are: Canadian Goose, Canadian Honker, Honker, Honker Goose, Big Honker, Old Honker, Boy Goose, Bernache (French for Barnacle Goose), Big Mexican Goose, Blackee, Blacknecked Goose, Brant, French Goose, Northern Goose, Reef Goose, Ringneck, Wavy, and White-cheeked Goose (Wormer). The Canada Goose has excellent eyesight which makes it difficult to hunt because the Goose can see the hunter well before the hunter ever sees the goose (Wormer). This eyesight is essential for flying though, a Canada Goose can see three quarters of a sphere without moving its head (Wormer).

The Canada Goose also has an acute sense of hearing, it’s ears are positioned on the side of it’s head (Wormer). They have either no sense of smell or a very poor one, but this does not impede the goose in any way (Wormer). Although there is a large variation in size all subspecies of Canada Geese look the same physically (Wormer) The male and female Canada Goose look almost exactly the same except the female can usually be recognized because it is smaller and less aggressive (Wormer). Colors also vary but, the color pattern is generally the same for all the subspecies (Godfrey). The head and neck are dark black with a large white patch on each cheek which meet under the chin, this is the Canada Goose’s most easily recognized characteristic because it is unique to the Canada Goose (Wormer).

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The upper parts of the body as well as the wings are greyish brown, the feathers tipped with brownish white (Godfrey). The tail is black with the upper tail coverts white and the under tail coverts are white also (Godfrey). The under body is brownish grey with paler feather tips, the sides being the darkest and the lower belly is white (Godfrey). The feathers of the breast commonly called down are broad and square tipped (Godfrey). The bill and legs are dark black, and the iris of the eye is brown with a black pupil (Wormer). The Canada Goose in it’s first Autumn and Winter is similar to the adults but breast feathers are narrower, softer and more rounded, the outer primaries on the other hand are less rounded than those of a mature adult (Godfrey).

The Canada Goose color pattern works as a great disguise, when lying flat with the neck outstretched the Canada Goose looks like a clump of grass and dirt and difficult to distinguish as a goose even on snow or ice (Wormer). All goslings of all subspecies of the Canada Goose look identical (Breen). Goslings are bright yellow and weigh less than one pound when hatched, after two weeks they way two pounds, after one month their weight is three to four pounds and their color is a dull grey, after six weeks a color pattern can be seen and inclination to fly i.e. running on top of the water flapping it’s wings, after eight weeks they look like adult and weigh six to seven pounds and some are able to fly others begin to fly in their ninth week, further growth depends on the subspecies (Breen). There are eleven subspecies of the Canada Goose but the characteristics that separate them usually cannot be seen from a distance (Wormer). Branta Canadensis Minima, also known as the Cackling Canada Goose is the smallest of all subspecies weighing only two and a half to four pounds (Wormer).

It is the darkest in color and has the highest pitch call (Wormer). Branta Canadensis Hutchinsii, also known as the Richardson Canada Goose weighs three to seven pounds and is light in color, it’s call has a pitch slightly deeper than that of the Cackling Canada Goose (Wormer). Branta Canadensis taverneri, also known as Taverner’s Canada Goose weighs three and a half to five pounds and is dark in color (Wormer). Branta Canadensis leucopareia, also known as the Aleutian Canada Goose also weighs three and a half pounds and is identical to Taverner’s Canada Goose except it has a narrow white ring separating the black neck from the dark grey-brown body (Wormer). Branta Canadensis Parvipes, also known as the Lesser Canada Goose weighs six pounds and is light colored (Wormer). Branta Canadensis Occidentalis, also known as the Dusky Canada Goose Weighs five to twelve pounds and is dark brown almost chocolate covered (Wormer).

Branta Canadensis, also known as the Atlantic Canada Goose weighs six to eleven pounds and is light colored (Wormer). Branta Canadensis Interior, also known as Todd’s Canada Goose also weighs six to eleven pounds and is medium colored (Wormer). Branta Canadensis Moffiti, also known as the Western Canada Goose weighs twelve to fifteen pounds and is medium colored (Wormer). Branta Canadensis Fulva, also known as the Vancouver Canada Goose weighs six to thirteen pounds and is dark in color, ninety percent of this species do not migrate and live in British Columbia all year round (Wormer). Branta Canadensis Maxima, also known as the Giant Canada Goose is said to be the most beautiful of all the subspecies but it is known that they are the most easily domesticated (Wormer). Giant Canadas Weigh eighteen to twenty pounds and are medium colored. Their diagnostic feature is that there is a small backward projecting hook on the white cheek patch (Wormer).

The Canada Goose has ten vocalizations or calls which it uses to communicate with other Canada Geese, honking, long distance call, greeting, alarm, short distance call of mate, short distance call to goslings, special greeting for female, adult distress, gosling distress, and gosling contentment call as well as a scream of pain when the bird is bitten (Wormer). It takes a female goose a day to a day and half to lay an egg (Wormer). Each goose lays and average of five to six eggs, sometimes only two and sometimes one goose may lay eleven to twelve eggs (Wormer). With sixty percent of all eggs laid hatching tow Canada Geese produce an average of three goslings per year (Wormer). Male to Female births are split down the middle, 50- 50 (Wormer).

The eggs are dull white and 2.86 by 1.89 inches to 3.43 by 2. 34 inches (Godfrey) and weigh 3.5 to 7.5 ounces (Breen). The incubation period lasts twenty five to twenty eight days with an average incubation temperature of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit to 101.3 degrees Fahrenheit (Wormer). Most of the Canada Geese killed from hunting are twelve to twenty-three years old (Wormer). Canada Geese in captivity however live an aver age of twenty to thirty years and sometimes even over forty (Wormer). The Canada Goose has a very rapid growth rate, in fact if an average human baby were to grow as fast as a gosling it would weigh one-hundred and thirty-eight pounds by the time it was eight weeks old (Wormer).

Goslings begin to develop feathers after their third week and after their fifth week the feather are the color of and adults (Breen). The adult geese begin molting when the goslings are two weeks old and is unable to fly for five to six weeks (Breen). After the molting period the goslings are eight to nine weeks old and are ready to fly with their parents (Breen). The Canada Goose has two types of habitat, breeding grounds, and Wintering grounds (Ross). Canada Gees migrate north to their breeding grounds and south to their wintering grounds (Ross).

During migration north and south the geese follow four main flyways, Atlantic flyway, Pacific Flyway, Mississippi Flyway and the Central Flyway (Breen). Within these flyways are migration corridors (refer to maps 1 and 2), biologists are not sure how they follow the same corridor year after year (Breen). There are three main theories of how a Canada Goose navigates to the same breeding and wintering grounds each migration (Breen). One theory is that they rely on landscape cues, another theory is that they use the position of the sun and stars, and the third theory is that they have iron rich tissue in their brains, like that of a pigeon and they use the earth’s magnetic field to navigate, but exactly how Canada Geese navigate is unknown (Breen). Some ducks may fly as fast as eighty miles per hour but the Canada Goose flies at a much more graceful speed of forty-two to forty-five miles per hour during migration and can fly as fast as sixty miles per hour.

Canada Geese always take off into the wind and usually fly at an altitude between one thousand and three thousand feet but in bad weather will fly as low as a couple hundred feet and when traveling over short distance they prefer walking because it uses less energy (Breen). When in flying in flocks Canada Geese fly in their trademark V formation, this formation is created because each goose flies behind and to the side of the goose in front of it allows them to take advantage of the slipstream created, this technique is known to automobile racers as drafting and it lets the Canada Goose fly seventy- one percent further than just going by itself (Breen). Another skill Canada Geese use to land in hea …


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