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WILDLIFE OF NORTHERN ENGLAND

The Canada goose Branta canadensis

The Canada goose belongs to the Family Anatidae in the Order Anseriformes. The Genus Branta to which the species belongs contains the geese which are largely black species, which differentiates them from the grey geese belonging to the Anser genus. The species name canadensis means of Canada.

Canada geese.

Photograph by Dal

Britain's largest goose

The Canada goose is Britain's largest goose it is also the largest goose in Europe. It was introduced to our shores during the 17th century.

                                                  DESCRIPTION

The plumage is grey brown, barred paler with black head and neck,rump wing and wing tips. The white chin "strap", cheeks and tail coverts distinguish this goose from all overs with the exception of the Barnacle goose which may be told by its black breast and smaller size.

The neck is very long compared with that of the Barnacle goose which is seldom seen  on inland waters. The Canadian goose has grey black legs. In relation to its body the neck is very long, the bill is medium length, the legs are short, the wing length very long. The wing span is 168cms. 

The male goose.

Photograph by Dal

Gregarious species.

During the winter months large flocks of Canada geese build up at favourable feeding grounds. In severe weather. however, no matter how cold that weather may be they tend to move away during February to find breeding territories. Locally the pairs tend to arrive at their waters during March. They then survey the water and its surroundings for a couple of weeks before choosing a location to construct their nests. 

Nest Eggs and Young.

Once a site is chosen they build on the ground among herbage close to the water making a large pile of twigs and grass etc that it can get hold of. The construction is similar to that of the swan, which the goose lines with down pulled from her under parts.The eggs are oval, stained light brown during the incubation. They number as a rule between 5-7 laid every one to two days.

The incubation is carried out by the female and takes up to between 28-30 days. The goslings fledge at 40-48 days. The yellow powder puff goslings are bravely protected by both parents. The goslings  when they first take to the water are unable to fly thus, if they have to move them for any reason they may have to walk them great distances . One parent will lead while the goslings follow in a single line , the rear brought up by the other parent. They are often seen swimming on the water in this "parade" like manner.

Below the goslings swimming in a "parade " like manner.

Photographs by Dal

protection

Should  any intruder come to near to the family they are first warned with a hissing sound from the parents along with a threatening posture which includes an outstretched neck often accompanied by spread flapping wings. They adopt this posture against humans too.

The moult.

The adults moult through July and August and are rendered flightless during the process. This process may take up to four weeks. Even at this stage of the season the young are also incapable of flight.so the family spend a great deal of time on the water to avoid predation.

Many families tend to stay together until the following spring. During September and October birds tend to flock again. However, with food being readily available at so many locations in the U.k. families tend to disperse to inland waterways.  The birds often roost on the water which may be some way from their feeding grounds. At this time of the year they are noisy and their loud honking can be heard from far away as they fly to their feeding grounds and on their return to the roost.

They feed on plant material such as foliage , roots and tubers seeds and fruit. This may be taken grazing or by upending in the water where their long necks are utilised to reach the plant growth at bed of the water. 

Canada Goose further information.

The geese produce one brood per season.

Age at first Breeding 3 years.

Typical Life span in the wild --6 years.

Population 82,550 adults in Britain-[ 1999}-88,866 adults in Britain 2000.

The population is increasing and causing some conservation concerns in some parts of Europe with many areas advocating a culling of the species. In many urban areas where they are safe from guns they tend to thrive. However, effective management plans and strategies  in ocl areas have not yet been developed in the U.K.

In the Great Lakes region in Canada there are huge populations of Canada Geese. 

In the U.K. on inland and urban waters where they are regularly fed they can become very tame. 

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