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Canada geese take about four years to reach maturity, though a few start breeding before that. Females choose the site, build the nest and incubate the eggs. The male remains an assertive guardian and shares responsibility for raising his brood. This cooperation leads to strong, monogamous pair bonds, usually for life. While cheating is a fact of life among many supposedly monogamous species, Canada geese are much more apt to stay faithful. The young remain with their families for up to a year.
Most snow geese fly over Maine without stopping, but a few settle down for a snack. The greater white fronted goose is a species commonly found in the central part of the country. A few stray this way in autumn. The pink footed goose calls Greenland, Iceland and Norway home. It has been a rare visitor in the past, but it has begun to show up in the eastern United States more often in recent years. The barnacle goose also breeds on the arctic islands of the North Atlantic. Its appearance in Maine is very rare. If you see one of these, call me.
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We take the Canada goose for granted. It is found throughout North America, often in annoying quantities. It didn't used to be that way. A century ago, overhunting had driven numbers dangerously low. In some parts of the continent, Canada geese disappeared altogether. Efforts to bring them back have been successful, maybe too successful.
Some geese don't migrate at all. They've adapted to a changing landscape and warming climate, taking advantage of wind scoured corn fields and open waters that once were frozen. Taking up residence in urban areas shields them from hunting pressure. Some find shelter in coastal salt marshes.
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There is more teamwork to be found in a flock of geese than on the entire New York Jets roster. Besides sharing leadership Discount Women Canada Goose Expedition Parka White Australia in flight, geese take turns guarding each other on the ground. Look at any goose convention in a local corn field and you'll see a few sentinel geese their heads held high, scanning for danger, while the other geese feed. Geese communicate with each other, honking incessantly to keep the flock together.
It's called a Canada goose, not a Canadian goose. There, I'm glad I got that off my chest. Hearing this familiar bird called a Canadian goose is like fingernails on a chalkboard.
Naturally, big concentrations of geese can cause problems. They damage corn fields, endanger aircraft and soil neighborhoods. Just 50 geese can create two and half tons of poop in a year. I don't know exactly how that figure was determined, but somewhere there is a grad student who got the worst thesis assignment ever.
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Scanning a flock of Canada geese in autumn is like panning for gold. There is sometimes a nugget out there. Rare species of geese occasionally seek out safety and food among the Canada geese. The cackling goose is very similar to a Canada goose, but it is much smaller, with a short bill. It was once thought to be a subspecies of the Canada goose, but in 2004, it was determined to be a separate species. There is one somewhere in Maine right now. Go find it.
Canada geese are adaptable. Besides aquatic vegetation, they can forage on a wide range of terrestrial grains, grasses and berries. They are tolerant of human presence, and they even take advantage of it. Parks, golf courses and lawns give them plenty of food and a wide view of approaching predators. Geese quickly figure out where they are immune from hunting. Perhaps my favorite example is Collins Pond in Caribou. This municipal pond is located downtown alongside a small park. Geese forage across the Aroostook farm fields nearby, then they gather in the pond for safety. Over a thousand geese at a time can congregate there.
This time of year, it's common to see flocks of Canada geese flying in V formation. Every goose except the leader gets an aerodynamic lift from the backwash of the goose in front of it. Experienced members of the flock take turns leading. Often, one side of the V formation is longer than the other. That's because there are more geese on that side.
A bird of another name is not the same
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Canada geese can travel great distances quickly. With a tailwind, they can fly from Bangor to Orlando in 24 hours. Usually, they set a much more leisurely pace, pausing to forage at well known rest stops along the way. These are often National Wildlife Refuges. The Mid Atlantic States have many.