This past week as my Mom and I were driving back to her neighborhood, we saw Momma and Poppa Canadian Geese leading their little goslings along the sidewalk and then stopping to check out the food supply in the grass at the corner. These beautiful birds, and their fuzzy little babies are seen throughout my Mom’s neighborhood on the south side of Indianapolis, Indiana. From spring to fall, we see them sitting in the yards of hopefully welcoming residents, walking across the street (most people stop and wait patiently), and floating in a pond in the area. I checked out some of their characteristics and habits, courtesy of the Seattle area Audubon Society (since that’s where the search took me!)
What They Eat
They eat mostly plants on land or in water. When they are migrating or in the winter, they find leftover grain in plowed fields. They also eat insects and sometimes small fish. It appears the ones who have taken to living on the lawns of city folks also eat the grasses found there.
Making Their Nests
The nest usually is on an elevated piece of ground near the water and with good visibility all around. The momma goose uses grass, weeds, and sticks to shape a shallow bowl, and then lines it with down from her body. Four to seven eggs are laid. The papa goose guards the next while the momma keeps the eggs warm for about 28 days. After hatching, the baby geese take their first walk, swim, dive, and dinner only two days later. Their momma and papa walk them to areas to find food, but do not feed them. It takes about seven to nine weeks before the babies can fly. They stay with their parents the first year after hatching.
There are several kinds of Canadian geese. Each population has its own specific migratory route. They stop at the same areas and winter at the same places each year. Sometimes, the Canadian geese that live in cities stay year-round.
Canadian geese don’t have to live where it is warm. They breed in northern temperate climates as well as the sub-arctic and arctic regions. They make nests in all 48 states in North America as well as in Canada and Alaska. The most important component for a nesting area is a body of water close by. You may see them in numerous places. We are fortunate to see them in several places in my Mom’s neighborhood.
How They Behave
Canadian Geese can eat underwater plants by pulling them out of the water, or turning upside down and getting them there. They are excellent swimmers and divers as well as flyers. During migration, they may join with other migrators in flocks up to 1000 members. Sometimes they fight over food during stops or when flying by grabbing each other’s throats with their beaks and then hitting each other with their wings. During mating season, the poppa goose defends his territory from other geese, people, and predators. Male and female Canadian Geese mate for life. Although if widowed, each may seek a new mate.
Photos of the Canadian geese and their babies from my Mom’s neighborhood will be added as soon as my iphone and computer cooperate! Other photos are public domain photos from these sites: