Geese - Canada Geese - Hebridean Birds
Western Isles Bird Sightings - The Canada Goose - rarely seen in The Western Isles and indeed in Scotland.

The Canada Goose is a large goose, with a distinctive black head and neck and large white throat patch or "chin strap".

The white chin strap stretches from cheek to cheek. The birds have a pale or white breast and sides with buff or brown wings and back. A lovely bird with its loud "honking" noise it makes means you simply cant miss it when it is around.
Canada Geese
Bird Overview - Canada Goose
Family
Swans, Ducks & Geese
Latin name
Branta canadensis
Population
Common in Britain but rarely seen in the Western Isles
Similar Species
Barnackle Geese
Description
This goose is a large goose, with a distinctive black head and neck and large white throat patch or "chin strap". The white chin strap stretches from cheek to cheek.

The birds have a pale or white breast and sides with buff or brown wings and back. They are lighter on the underside. Male and female birds look alike. An introduced species from N America, it has successfully spread to cover most of the UK. It forms noisy flocks and is often regarded as a nuisance in areas where large numbers occur on amenity grassland and parks.

They can be seen in England all year round. In winter, but rarely in The Hebrides and The Western Isles. Occasional birds of small races are seen with other wild geese species in N Ireland and W Scotland, and may be vagrant wild birds. In the summer these birds moult and new feathers are grown - just in time for their migration.

The Canada Geese are likely to follow the same migration path every year and families stay together forming flocks. which fly in a "V" shape. They fly in this shape as this way they need less energy - one bird leads the flock until it tires and then another will take over. The Winters are spend in Canada or North America, Us or Mexico.


Size
The size is variable between the different races and sub species - there are twelve sub species - these geese can weigh anything from 1.4 kg to 7 kg (3 lbs to 15 lbs) and can have a wingspan - from 90 cm up to 2 m (3 ft to 6 1/2 ft)

Habitat
Along waterways, lochs, rural areas, boggy marshy places.
Food
These Canada Geese eat primarily plant materials, including roots, tubers, stems, leaves, fruits and seeds. THey also eat insects and food scraps.
Voice
A variety of deep resonant "honking" calls, uttered loudly especially in flight or when preparing for flight. The geese also make softer grunt like sounds for contact between nearby birds - they also have an alarm call a loud "gorrack" repeated at short intervals. The geese have up to thirteen different sounds for communication. .

Breeding
Egg laying starts in Britain towards the end of March. These geese usually choose it to be on ground close to water - somewhere where there are shrubs or bushes around in shelter, or at the base of a tree - but occasionally out in the open. The birds mate for life and remain with their partners. and even tend to use the same nests each year.

The nest is a low pile of leaves, grass and reeds, sometimes with twigs and small branches if available. The nest will be lined with down during and after laying. The eggs are matt white and cream and become stained light brown during incubation. There will be a clutch of maybe 5 or 6 and incubation is 28 - 30 days. Fledging is at 40 - 48 days.

The goslings are yellow-gray or yellow-brown in colour with dark bills. The yellowish feathers quickly become grey within a week. THese amazing geese can walk and swim immediately after hatching.and the families quickly leave the nest for waters where it is safer for them. When the birds are about three years old, they will mate and build nests of their own.


Misc. Info

Most Common Goose In the World
The Canada Goose is the most common of all wild geese in the world. In North America where they are really common it is one of the largest waterfowl in North America. Only swans are larger.

A Honker

The Canada Goose is also called a honker because of the loud, honking sound that the bird makes. The male is called a gander, the female is a goose and the young are goslings.

12 Sub Species
The Canada Goose is a highly variable species In the early 1950s, it was split up into 12 subspecies



Varying Sizes
The introduced Canada Geese in Britain are among the largest and palest of the subspecies. There are also large, dark subspecies, some very small ones, no bigger than a Barnacle Goose, as well as some in between.

    Webbed feet and legs set forward
    Geese have webbed feet for swimming and their legs are set forward. Geese therefore are able to walk better on land than ducks and swans.

    Oil Glands
    These Canada Geese have oil glands situated near their tails which are used for waterproofing the feathers. These birds can travel up to 650 miles all in one day.

    Goslings - Prey for Larger Birds
    The goslings can easily become prey for larger birds like eagles, crows, or even the gulls.

    Hunting Regulations
    Canada Geese are now protected by hunting regulations.

    Life span of a Canada Goose
    The average life span for a bird in the wild is 24 years

    V - Formations for Flying - Reasons for This - Aerodynamics

    The birds are said to form a "V" formation when in flight for ease of flying and because it is aerodynamic

    The wings of a bird in when in flight create a down wash and an up wash of air, with most of the up wash concentrated behind and just beyond the tips of the wings.

    The up wash created means that the bird following the one in front gets a "lift" and meets with less "drag" than it the bird was flying on its own.

    With the exception of the "leading bird" all the members of the flock gain an advantage from the bird ahead which makes for a great energy saving.

    It is said however that this maybe in the case of the Canada Geese doesn't fall true as to gain these benefits the birds need to fly very closely together - whilst these geese are more spaced out when they fly - it remains their secret


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