Giant Canada Geese and Snow Geese migration stop


The Giant Canada Goose and the Snow Goose gather in the autumn….The geese in these photos are happily grazing along highway 138 …and the sign points the way south…but the birds don’t seem to be heading in that direction!!

The young snow goose has gray feathers and olive green feet and bill which become white and orange after their first year. They have a wingspan of almost five feet (1.5 m.) and can fly at speeds of 55 Km./hr to 95 Km/hr. if needed, and they may fly nonstop for 1000 Km! They don’t read signs, obviously.

This is a mixed flock…there are several different races of Canada Goose, Branta canadensis. The white birds are Snow Geese, Chen caerulescens atlantica, whose range is usually much farther east beyond Montreal, between Montreal and Quebec City. The north end of their migration is in the very high arctic (Nunavut Territory) and along the western shores of Baffin Island. They fly south to their wintering ground along the Atlantic coast, from New Jersey to South Carolina. They congregate in great numbers in the Delaware and Chesapeake Bays. In between the high Arctic and the U.S., they have become numerous in Canadian fields. I think the attraction is the large sod farm and landfill which is in the left background of the above photo. This area has large farms with various crops…from corn to soybeans..and the mechanical harvest of these crops always leaves spillage, which the birds enjoy. They need to accumulate fat to prepare them to mate and rear their young.

The clutch of the snow goose is 4 -5 eggs laid in a nest, in a depression on the tundra, and lined with down from the female’s breast…incubation can be 24 days and the gander stays nearby. They walk from the hatching site to a rearing site…where there is predation by foxes, bears and gulls.

If a young bird survives to fledge and fly they usually stay with the parents for a year. A pair mates for life, but will remate if one dies, and families return to the same nesting site. They fly as a family too. The migration can take as little as one day for young unmated birds (they usually don’t mate until they are about 3-5 yrs old) to days longer if it’s a family with goslings. This was determined because geese have been fitted with radio transmitters and tracked. (Must have had a dandy tail wind!)

I would recommend checking out “Hinterland Who’s Who” on the net for a complete fact sheet on both the Giant Canada and the Snow Goose.


14 Nov, 2010
bonkersbon said:

Thank you for sharing this Lelein your photos clearly show the huge numbers they congregate in .Not sure we could cope .. they look capable of stripping vast acres of land at a sitting lol

From the great info you ve provided sounds like they are tolerated next to landfill and crop spillage.Wonder if this is the case in other areas .. we only had a small flock of Canada geese where I used to work but that was more than enough .

They just seemed so capable of depositing far more than they ate lol ..

15 Nov, 2010
jane said:

Wonderful to see them in such large numbers..must be an amazing sight ....its great that they can be tracked with the transmitters too.

16 Nov, 2010
stickitoffee said:

how lovely, and thank you for your very interesting blog, isnt there a lovely story about the snow goose?
i have a feeling michael morpurgo wrote one ~ to do with the war, its sad.

16 Nov, 2010
clarice said:

Very interesting blog and photos

19 Nov, 2010
lincslass said:

Very imformative blog, many thanks......

20 Nov, 2010
david said:

I have thoroughly enjoyed all the fascinating info here. What an amazing sight. :-))

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