Frequently Asked Questions
Kingdom: Animalia - Phylum: Chordata - Subphylum: Vertebrata - Class: Aves
Order: Anserformes - Family: Anatidae - Genus: Branta - Species: Branta canadensis
Q. Which is correct? Canadian goose or Canada goose?
A. The term “Canadian” is acceptable but the correct name is “Canada”.
Birds are given Latin or Neo-Latin names so the species are recognized
universally. The Latin names are then translated into common names,
which reflect the language of each country. When translated into English,
Branta canadensis becomes “Goose of Canada”, hence Canada goose.
Q. What is a group of geese called?
A. When flying, a group of geese is referred to as a “flock” or “skein” but
but when gathered on the ground, the group is referred to as a
Q. Why don’t the feet of geese stick to a frozen pond in the wintertime?
A. Birds don’t have sweat glands; consequently there is no moisture on
the bottom of their feet. The lack of moisture prevents their feet from
freezing to the ice.
Q. Why don’t geese suffer frostbite on their feet in the wintertime?
A. To minimize the loss of heat, the arteries and veins in the legs of
the geese lie in contact with each other and function as a
countercurrent heat exchange system to retain heat. Arterial blood
leaves the birds’ core (trunk) at body temperature, while venus
blood in the feet is quite cool. As the cool blood returns toward the core,
heat moves by conductance from the warm arteries into the cool veins.
Thus, arterial blood reaching the feet is already cool and venous blood
reaching the core has already been warmed. While the core temperature
of a goose standing on ice is about 104 degrees F, its feet may be only
slightly above freezing.
Q. Why do I see feathers on the ground in the summer?
A. After nesting, geese undergo an annual feather molt, a 4-5 week
flightless period when they shed and re-grow their outer wing feathers.
Molting occurs between mid-June and late July, and the birds resume
flight in August.
Q. Once in awhile I see a Canada goose with wing feathers sticking
out. What causes this to happen?
A. This non-life threatening condition is commonly referred to as Angel
wing or Airplane wing and may be caused by any one of the following:
High protein diet, hypovitaminosis D, manganese deficiency, vitamin E
deficiency, genetic factors, excessive growth rate, restricted exercise,
incorrect incubation, hatching problems, trauma, weight of blood-filled
growing primary feathers.
Q. Why are some Canada geese wearing neck collars and/or leg bands?
A. “Bird banding is a universal technique for studying the movement,
survival and behavior of birds and is coordinated through the North
American Bird Banding Program. The program is jointly administered
by the U.S. Geological Survey through the Bird Banding Laboratory and
the Canadian Wildlife Service through the Bird Banding Office. These
two offices do not band birds directly, but instead issue banding permits,
provide bands, maintain band and recovery data and coordinate band-
ing projects in North America”.
While on the surface the banding of “waterfowl” appears benign
enough, the collected data is used to set harvest regulations, i.e.,
establish hunting seasons and bag limits (number of waterfowl a
hunter can legally kill). For this reason, Canada Geese New
Jersey asks that you do not report any leg band or auxiliary marker,
such as a neck collar, found on a live or dead Canada goose, to the
Bird Banding Laboratory.
Q. Do geese have teeth?
A. In a sense, they do. Their bills have” lamellae”, or teeth, around the
outside edges that are used as a cutting tool.
Q. How longs do it take for the eggs of a Canada goose to hatch?
A. Hatching occurs approximately 28 to 30 days from the time the last egg
is laid. At that point, the developed goslings begin to peck their way out
of their shells with the egg tooth on the end of their bills. Eventually, the
egg tooth disappears.
Q. How do Canada geese communicate?
A. Scientists believe that there are as many as 13 different Canada goose
calls for things like greetings, warnings and contentment. Baby geese
(goslings) begin communicating while still in the eggs. Once hatched,
There is also evidence that they respond differently to different calls
and noises from their parents, indicating a sophisticated level of
Q. Why do Canada geese fly in a V formation?
A. The V formation allows the geese to conserve energy because the
formation reduces the drag force that each bird experiences compared
to flying alone. The decrease in drag is the result of “wing vortices”.
However, the lead bird works the hardest since it flies into
undisturbed air. Lead birds will drop back periodically to rest. The
birds in the middle experience less drag than the lead bird or the birds
at the end of each line. The V formation also allows the geese to
communicate more easily and provides good visual contact with each
other. For a complete explanation of the V formation, visit this web site:
Q. I know geese can be aggressive during nesting time. What do I do
if I happen to cross paths with an aggressive goose?
A. Wildlife experts suggest a number of tactics to defuse the situation.
Maintain direct eye contact; geese seem to pay close attention to eyes
and body language. Don’t close, cover or squint your eyes and never
turn your back on an aggressive goose. Keeping a confident and neutral
demeanor toward the goose, i.e. don’t yell, swing, kick or act hostile.
Slowly back away using your peripheral vision to avoid tripping over
obstacles behind you.
This information has been gleaned from the Internet but from web sites deemed reliable.