The Canada Goose is a large water bird with an elongated black neck. Its head is black, and it has white stripes under its chin and a white band on its cheeks. Its feathers are lightly tanned, and sometimes have a light gray or cream color, complimenting its brown back. The goose has black webbed feet and a light brown tanned body. The tail has a lighter color than the body. It has lamellae, or teeth, around the outside edges of its black bill that are used for cutting. Males and females resemble each other although the males are somewhat larger than the females. Canada Geese are between 76–110cm (30–43in) in length and have a 127–180 cm (50–71in) wingspan. The male usually weighs 3.2–6.5kg (7.1–14lb) while the female looks virtually identical to the male but she is generally 10% lighter than the male and weighs between 2.5–5.5kg (5.5–12 lb).
Lakes, rivers, bays and marshes are common habitats of the Canada Goose. It frequently feeds in open fields and in large expanses where grass is found. It is common throughout Canada and the United States, where it breeds and winters as well. Contrary to its normal migration routine, large flocks of Canada Geese have established permanent residence in the Chesapeake Bay and in Virginia's James River regions, and in the Triangle area of North Carolina and nearby Hillsborough. Some flocks in Canada may even choose not to migrate, even during the winter, if food is constantly available throughout the season. Canada Geese have reached northern Europe naturally and have also been found naturally on the Kamchatka Peninsula in eastern Siberia, eastern China, and throughout Japan. Greater Canada Geese have however been introduced in Europe, and have established populations in Great Britain, the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, and Scandinavia. They were also introduced as a game bird into New Zealand, but have become a pest in some areas, fouling pastures and damaging crops.
Canada Geese are primarily herbivores although they sometimes eat small insects and fish. Their diet includes green vegetation and grains and a variety of grasses when on land. They feed by grasping a blade of grass with the serrated bill, then tearing it with a jerk of the head. The Canada Goose also eats wheat, beans, rice, and corn when they are available. When it is in the water, the Canada Goose sticks its head and upper body under the water, stretches its neck out and uses its bill to scoop up food from the mud and silt. It also feeds on aquatic plants, such as seaweeds. In urban cities they are known to feed out of garbage bins.
The meat of the Canada Goose has a taste very similar to that of roasted beef. It has a lot of fat between the skin and meat, but the meat itself is very lean.
Canada Geese travel together in large flocks producing a V-Shaped formation in flight. They travel slowly and honk loudly as they fly. The territorial males often fight off predators by using their wings and beaks. The breeding season takes place between March to June. Males and females form life-long mating pairs. The female builds a nest on the ground near water and uses grass, reeds and moss to construct it and lines it with down feathers. She lays between 4 to 10 whitish colored eggs whish she incubates and turns over regularly for a period of 24-28 days before they hatch. The male offers protection for the female and the nest and wards off any potential predators. After about 40 to 70 days the young fledge and begin to fly. Canada Geese produce a variety of calls ranging from deep “a-honk” call, to medium and large “honk-a-lonk” calls up to large toned, high-pitched cackling sounds. In recent years, Canada Geese populations in some areas have grown substantially and are considered pests as a result of their droppings, the bacteria in their droppings, their noise and confrontational behavior and their destructive feeding on pasture, damaging crops.
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