Canada Goose (Branta canadensis) in Idlewild Park, Reno. December 13, 2015. Photo: K. Fitzgerald.
- A large-bodied goose
- Black head with white cheek patches
- Long black neck
- Webbed feet
Canada Geese (Branta canadensis) are common along the Truckee River throughout the year, although it is possible that we are not always looking at the same birds. In winter, Canada Geese form large flocks that spend their days resting on the banks or slowly traveling the river’s icy shoreline, sometimes leaving the water to feed on grasses, berries and seeds. Winter flocks often include family groups of parent birds and the previous year’s offspring (Mowbray et al. 2002).
During spring, Canada Geese begin to migrate north in lines or “V”-formations, and can often be heard honking (“ka-ronk”) as they fly overhead. Some of the Canada Geese that wintered along the Truckee River may migrate out of the region, while birds from further south may migrate in; others may remain in the area year-round.
During late spring/early summer, mated pairs break off from their flocks to search for nest sites. Canada Geese mate for life, and usually form pairs during their second or third year. Females select a nest site, usually on high ground near the banks of the river. They construct cup-shaped nests out of grasses and other plants, and line the nest with feathers (Mowbray et al. 2002).
Each pair raises one brood of 2-8 goslings (chicks) per year. Goslings often stay with their parents for their entire first year — first as small family-groups, then gathering into larger flocks as summer progresses. In fall, Canada Geese travel south in flocks made up of loose family groups and individuals. They often return to the same wintering grounds year after year (Mowbray et al. 2002).
References & Links
All About Birds. 2014. Canada Goose. http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/canada_goose/lifehistory
Ebird Range Map, 2016. Canada Goose: http://ebird.org/ebird/map/cangoo
Mowbray, Thomas B., Craig R. Ely, James S. Sedinger and Robert E. Trost. 2002. Canada Goose (Branta canadensis), The Birds of North America Online (A. Poole, Ed.). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; Retrieved from the Birds of North America Online: http://0-bna.birds.cornell.edu.innopac.library.unr.edu/bna/species/682