The Canada goose (Branta canadensis) is the most widespread goose in North America. This species can adapt to widely diverse habitats and is found in the Artic, Alaska, the Northwest Territories, Canada, continental United States, and Mexico.
Canada geese are extremely variable in size ranging from 1.4-4.5 kg (3.5-9.8 lb).
Depending on the reference consulted, there are anywhere from six to eleven subspecies or races. All groups have a black bill, black neck, black legs and feet, dark brown to gray-brown back, wings, sides and breast, white flank and belly, plus a distinctive white cheek patch.
The species is sexually monomorphic, however birds less than 1 year of age have notched tail feathers and an indistinct color division between their black neck and gray breast. Birds less than 1.5 years have pointed, rather than rounded, primary feathers.
Canada geese are herbivores. The diet consists of grasses, aquatic vegetation, seeds and grains. Preferred foods include wheat, ryegrasses, clover, and common landscape grasses like bluegrass and fescue.
Canada geese mate for life and the bond is so strong that if one of the pair is unable to fly, the other will elect not to migrate. Both parents raise the young.
Image by Tony Hisgett.
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To cite this page: Pollock C. Waterfowl commonly seen in practice. December 19, 2012. LafeberVet Web site. Available at https://lafeber.com/vet/waterfowl-commonly-seen-in-practice/