Bird of the month – June 2022 – The Canada Goose

Have you seen the bird of the month?

For June it is the: Canada Goose (Branta canadensis)

Where can I find them?

They are common and can be found down at the Lake.

When the goslings are around, you can sometimes see them “hiding” underneath their mums’ wings, along the edge of the lake.

About the species

The Canada Goose is not native to this country and so does not have a UK status. They were introduced from North America about 300 years ago. After the Second World War, they spread across the UK.

Males and females are identical as far as markings go, with a black neck and head, grey-brown back and white cheek patches. If you see a pair together, then normally the males are slightly larger.

Canada Geese typically live for around six years.

Normally around the beginning of September, the geese leave the lake at the reserve and head back to other locations, like Mote Park.

For some of the birds, in the reserve, they can sadly never leave or fly off. In 2021 we saw the young develop a condition known as Angel Wing. This is a syndrome that affects primarily aquatic birds, in which the last joint of the wing is twisted with the wing feathers pointing out laterally, instead of lying against the body.

This condition is caused by an excess of high carbohydrate food in their diet, like bread.

If you are visiting the reserve and would like to feed the geese, goslings or wildfowl, please do not feed them with bread.

No Bread

Food safe for the geese and ducks includes:

• Birdseed (any type or mix)
• Chopped lettuce or other greens or salad mixes
• Chopped vegetable trimmings or peels
• Grapes (cut in half)
• Frozen peas or corn (defrosted, no need to cook)
• Rice (cooked or uncooked)
• Cracked corn, wheat, barley, oats, or similar grains
• Duck pellets
• Earthworms or Mealworms

In the wild, they feed on weed, grasses and sedges.

What do they sound like?

Various loud honks, barks, and cackles. Also, some hisses if you get too close!

Where do they nest and what is the nest made from?

The female constructs most of the nest and normally chooses an area with an unobstructed view in many directions. This is to help protect from any possible unwanted visitors predating of the nest and eggs.

The nest is a large open cup on the ground, made of dry grasses, mosses, and other plant material. It is normally lined with down and some body feathers.

The eggs are incubated only by the female and for around 25-28 days. During this time the male will stay close by on guard, protecting his mate.

The goslings are covered with yellowish down and their eyes are open. They leave the nest when 1-2 days old and can even swim and walk!

If you manage to photograph a Canada Goose or their Goslings, within the reserve, why not share it on our Facebook page?