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Canada Goose

Overview

Before 1950, Canada geese (Branta canidensis) were only known as migrants and winter visitors to Ohio. In the early 1950s, the Ohio Division of Wildlife initiated a program to establish resident flocks within the state. These introduction efforts were immediately successful.

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Description

The Canada goose is a large gray-bodied bird with a black head and a long black neck. The best field mark is the large white cheek and throat patch. The sexes are alike. The size of this goose varies considerably - some are the size of a large duck and others are two to three times larger. At least 10 distinct subspecies exist.

Reproduction

Canada geese have proven to be adaptable in their choice of nesting habitats. Typical nesting sites are on the ground adjacent to a pond or lake and on small islands in lakes and rivers. They maintain a small territory around these nests which is aggressively defended by the males. These monogamous breeders begin breeding the first weeks of March, and may continue as late as June in colder areas. Incubation only lasts 23-30 days. Most clutches are laid before April 15 and the majority of young geese hatch before May 10. Clutch sizes range from 2-9 eggs; 5 is average. The young geese attain flight after eight to nine weeks, and the family groups normally remain intact into autumn.

Habitat & Behavior

Thanks to wildlife management efforts by the Division of Wildlife of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, the Canada goose is now living in Ohio year-round. Several large lakes and marshy areas have permanent flocks of thousands of geese. They migrate by day and night in noisy, V-shaped formations. The song is a loud honk. They typically feed on plant matter and aquatic invertebrates.

Research & Surveys

Canada Goose: Migrant

Best Viewing Opportunities:

  • Mosquito Creek Wildlife Area, Trumbull County
  • Magee Marsh Wildlife Area, Ottawa County
  • Shenango Wildlife Area, Trumbull County
  • Sandusky Bay, Ottawa, Sandusky & Erie counties
  • Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge, Ottawa & Lucas counties 

2012 Update

The migrant Canada goose most commonly seen in Ohio is from the Interior race originating in the James Bay region of the Canadian sub-arctic. This population has been under intense pressure due to habitat destruction on their arctic breeding grounds from overuse by snow geese and competition from temperate breeding Giant Canada geese. The population trend has been stable in recent years. The 2012 breeding population estimate of 94,943 birds was slightly lower than the 2011 estimate of 98,948. The 2012 estimate of 77,503 breeding pairs is also slightly lower than the 2011 estimate of 86,891(Source: Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources). Harvest and viewing opportunities in Ohio should be similar to 2011.


Canada Goose: Resident 

Best Viewing Opportunities:

  • Mosquito Creek Wildlife Area, Trumbull County
  • Magee Marsh Wildlife Area, Ottawa County
  • Killdeer Plains Wildlife Area, Wyandot County
  • Sandusky Bay, Ottawa, Sandusky & Erie counties
  • Mercer Wildlife Refuge, Mercer County

2012 Update

The resident Canada goose of Ohio is of the Giant race which breeds in the temperate region of the U.S. Once thought extinct, the race was rediscovered in Minnesota and in former market hunter live decoy flocks. The Ohio population of giants, once relegated to goose management areas, can now be found throughout the state with large numbers in urban settings. The spring population estimate for 2012 was 147,718 birds which is slightly higher than the 2010 estimate of 102,441 (Source: Ohio Breeding Goose Survey). The goose population is still above the minimum state goal of 60,000 and production this year was estimated to be good to excellent. Total breeding population estimate for the Mississippi Flyway was 1.76 million geese up from 1.62 million geese in 2011. Harvest and viewing opportunities should be similar to 2011.