Find the best places to hunt Canada Geese in Canada. Discover their Physical Description, Range, Habitat, Food Source, Breeding Habits, and Status. 

Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)Canada Goose, Branta canadensisLC

Range - Distribution and Habitat of the Canada Goose:

Range of Canada Goose
 Canada Goose Range Map1

Original Source of Map of North America from

Modified by:

The Canada Goose is a migratory native breeding resident of Canada. It breeds mostly in non-tundra habitats in every province and territory in Canada all the way from the Arctic Ocean down to the Canadian – U.S. border and beyond..

In Canada, this species is found on most rural lakes, parks and freshwater marshes which probably makes it one of the most familiar bird species in Canada. It has a knack for living almost anywhere and can also be found around man made habitats like airports, golf courses, parks, and reservoirs.

Some members of this species will spend the winter here in Canada especially where there are large areas of agricultural feed available like those in southern Ontario or an urban park where people feed them. However, most of the population does migrate south to the northern half of the United States.

The Canada goose is widely distributed throughout North America; it occurs in or at least migrates through every state and province. General distributions of each population during breeding and wintering seasons are given below.

B. c. moffitti - breeds from central Alberta and British Columbia south to the central northwestern states; winters in the Southwest
B. c. canadensis - breeds on Baffin Island, Labrador, Newfoundland, Anticosti Island, and the Magdalen Islands; winters in New England and the Maritime Provinces
B. c. interior - breeds in Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba; winters in the Midwest and from Delaware to North Carolina
B. c. occidentalis - breeds on Prince William Sound, Cook Inlet; winters from Washington to California
B. c. fulva - breeds and winters along coast of Alaska and British Columbia
B. c. maxima - breeds and winters on refuges in the farm belt states, typically Oklahoma and Kansas
B. c. taverneri - breeds throughout interior Alaska; winters from Washington to California
B. c. hutchinsii - breeds on western Baffin Island and surrounding islands; winters on the North Platte River in Nebraska and in Oklahoma and Texas
B. c. parvipes - breeds from central Alaska across northern Canada; winters in the same areas as B. c. hutchinsii
B. c. leucopareira - breeds on the Aleutian Islands; winters from Washington to California
B. c. minima - breeds along coastal Alaska; winters from Washington to California

Source: US Forest Service Fire Effects Information Service

Description of Canada Goose:

Canada Goose
 Goose canada
Canada Goose – Tim Dunton - Flickr

Save for physical size, where the male is larger, both male and females appear very similar. It has a large body and a short tail. The Canada Goose is well recognized by its long black neck, head, and feet along with its white chin patch that runs from behind its eyes and down onto its throat under its chin. Its back is a dark brown colour, it has pale underbelly and a white tail.

This species can have an overall length of 35.4 to 78.7 inches (90 to 200 cm.) long, a wing span of 50 to 68.1 ins. (127 to 173 cm.) and a body mass of 2.4 to 17.6 lbs. (1.1 to 8 kg.). Its wing cord can range from 15 to 22 inches (39 to 55 cm.), its tail may be 2.7 to 4.2 inches (6.9 to 10.6 cm.), and its bill 1.6 to 2.7 inches (4.1 to 6.8 cm.).

This species has good eyesight and because of eye placement on the side of their head they possess a more than 180 degree field of view.

It is not clearly known what the life expectancy of the Canada goose is. Wild geese have been recorded at 23 and 24 years of age.

Diet and Foraging Strategy of the Canada Goose:

Mainly active during the day, the Canada goose is an herbivore that lives on a diet of aquatic vegetation, seeds, waste grain, grasses, forbs, berries, nuts, tubers, mollusks, and crustaceans.

On the water it will normally surface feed by tipping over its body in order to forage below the surface for plants like eel grass, pondweed, sea lettuce, sago, wigeon grass,. In the fall you may find them on land where it will feed in open fields searching for bluegrass, brome, giant burreed, cattail, clover, cordgrass, fescue, foxtail, glasswort, common hornwort, horsetail, orchardgrass, saltgrass, sedge, smartweed, and spikerush.

It will also forage for spent grains in agricultural fields for alfalfa, barley, beans, corn, millet, oats, rice, rye, sorghum, and wheat.

Young geese require high levels of protein and young shoots of grass are the preferred feed.

Breeding and Reproduction of the Canada Goose:

Breeding areas are fairly diverse in selection. Northern populations may nest on the open tundra where they will choose solid ground that is surrounded by water and an open view from which they can see predators coming. This contrasts to more southern members that will nest on lakes, rivers, and forests where they nest on dry ground within bulrushes.

Breeding pairs of Canada geese are normally monogamous to each other for their entire life. They are also fairly consistent in returning to the area from which they were born in order to nest.

The nesting season for this species is anywhere from March to June. Nesting sites are usually isolated but they generally have good visibility. It is the female that chooses the nest location, builds the nest and incubates them. The male’s role is to defend the nest, territory, and eggs from all other intruders.

Typically, the hen lays a clutch of 4 to 6 eggs in a ground scrape that is lined with down. Materials like weeds, twigs, grass, and needles may be used in the building of the nest. The nesting pair will attempt to re-nest if the first clutch of eggs is destroyed. Incubation starts after the last egg is laid and takes anywhere from 23 to 30 days to occur with the female regularly turning them to ensure proper temperature.

Young geese are born precocial and parental care of the young is carried out by both of the parents. It takes the young geese about 9 weeks to fledge. The juveniles will normally stay with their parents for their first winter. The young reach sexual maturity in their first year and it is uncertain if pair bonding occurs on their wintering grounds or when they return to the breeding grounds in the spring.

Status of Canada Goose:

The Canada Goose was assessed by BirdLife International in 2012 to be a species of Least Concern. Justification for this assessment on the Red List was because it has a very large range and the population appears to be increasing in size.

The size of the bird makes it formidable in defending its nest. However, the chicks and eggs in an unguarded nest can become a target for gulls, magpies, ravens, American crows, bears, badgers, bobcats, coyotes, foxes, raccoons, striped skunks, and domestic dogs to name a few.



Canada Goose

 © Wildscreen - Source: ARKive

 © Smithsonian Institution - Supplier: Robert Costello

 © NatureServe - Source: NatureServe

 © The Regents of the University of Michigan and its licensors - Source: Animal Diversity Web

 © International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources - Source: IUCN

 © The Regents of the University of Michigan and its licensors - Source: BioKIDS Critter Catalog

Public Domain - Source: US Forest Service Fire Effects Information Service

© WoRMS for SMEBD - Source: World Register of Marine Species

© SPIRE project - Source: SPIRE

© Joao Pedro de Magalhaes - Source: AnAge

© The Biomimicry Institute - Source: AskNature 

Public Domain - Handbook

  • Canada and Canada Geese: Management and Population Control in Southern Canada by Canadian Wildlife Service Environment Canada, source -

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