Branta Canadensis: More Familiarly Known as the Canada Goose

April 12, 2011

To give you a little insight into goose hunting here in Colorado it would be a good starting place to first go over some of the basic information about the Branta Canadensis, more familiarly known as the Canada goose. Some believe these geese to be the most common and most recognized waterfowl species in all of North America.

Male and female geese look identical to one another but the male goose or gander is typically bigger and big or large geese are considered honkers or greater to the smaller lesser or cackler geese. Canadian geese are easily identified by their long black necks and a patch of white on each cheek and under their chins on their black heads. They also have a grayish black body, grayish brown and white bellies with white under their tails, very large wings and weigh about 6 to 20 pounds. While Colorado goose hunting this year we ended up shooting some huge geese that made our hands look small in comparison to their large heads.

You can always find geese in close proximity to water sources like reservoirs, lakes, ponds, gravel pits, streams, rivers and marshes. You will also find them in all our mad made areas like on the golf course, city parks, near airports and most likely in your back yard too. Prior to migration, geese will feed heavily and on most occurrences will spend about 12 hours each day feeding, they are also herbivores. They have teeth on the outsides of their bills called lamellae that they use to help them in cutting and tearing your bluegrass yard. Grass is of high preference for geese but they will eat pretty much all of Colorado’s agriculture that is easily presented and they can eat around a pound a day. They have also been spotted putting down small fish and crustaceans with a normal diet consisting of grass, corn, wheat, aquatic plants, grains, beans, rice, berries and not to forget all the crackers and bread they put down those long necks at the local parks.

Geese will usually return to the same nesting area every year and the nest will always have good visibility from approaching dangers, most often next to open water. They are monogamous and if one goose dies the other will usually find another lifelong mate but will sometimes remain single. Mating occurs yearly in the spring on the water and for the most part geese will not start breeding until they have reached the age of two. The female goose will choose the nesting area and build the nest using various grasses, leafs and other surrounding vegetation while the male defends the territory, nest and eggs. She will also incubate the eggs and line the nest using feather down that she pulls from her chest. In each nest there will be an average of five to seven eggs and together they are called a clutch. Each egg will take a little over a day to lay and after the whole clutch has been laid incubation will start and takes around a month to fully incubate.

The babies or goslings will take around 1-2 days to free themselves from their egg with an egg tooth that is on top of their bills. All of the eggs will have hatched in a day and within in 24 hours all of the goslings will take a dip in the water. When the mating and nesting stage is finished the adults will start a molting process every year where they will lose their outer wing feathers. The adult geese will become flightless during the molting process and they will get on the water to escape from predators and danger. Their outer wing feathers will be fully grown back when the goslings are ready to start flying by about 9 weeks of age.

While nesting geese are very protective and aggressive and you can see this on all sorts of funny videos where people that come to close to the nest get attacked. If a goose starts hissing and flapping their weapons of mass feathering they might not be happy with the situation. Body language is an extremely apparent means of communication between geese and is not hard to spot at the park or lake where they chase and push each other around. Geese are also very vocal and can put together about 13 different calls from warning and contentment calls to loud alarms and greetings to rapid clucks and murmurs when they are feeding. All in all the Canada goose is a very family orientated and gregarious bird which may be the chattiest animal after us loud mouths.

Have you seen those long diagonal and v lines in the sky and wonder why those geese fly like that? Well the most logical explanation for such unity in the air would have to be aerodynamics. For the long distances geese will travel in migration it probably helps to fly in those patterns to decrease the drag in flight and have less energy spent flying. In migration periods geese can fly an average of 2-3 thousand miles in range in the migration process is one that is learned. During this period, at one time or another, they can be spotted all across the states, in Canada and Mexico. Spending most of their time in the summer months in northern areas of North America and Canada and when winter comes they will start their travels southward. 12 subspecies of Canadian geese have been noted and 7 of those have been recognized. Geese have been located naturally in Northern Europe, in Eastern Siberia, in Eastern China as well as in Japan. They have been introduced into quite a few other countries as well throughout history.

There are lots of Canadian gees to be found in Colorado from the ones that stay here year round, also known as resident geese, to the flocks that migrate through and it provided us with numerous hunting opportunities because of it. All the information about Canadian geese here is not exclusive but it is a good start to get some education about them because learning about actually hunting geese is a story and process that continues all year.

Stories, experiences, pictures and videos are endless when it comes to Colorado Goose Hunting so take a look at what we can offer you when the goose season is on hold. We also look forward to speaking with you on Facebook and will give you the chance to come Goose Hunt with us, as well.

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