Canada geese are large birds, averaging 10-14 pounds. Among waterfowl (ducks, geese & swans) of North America, Canada geese are second only to swans in size. Their long black neck and white cheek markings are particularly distinctive.
Also distinctive, is the honking of migrating geese; the sound that clearly evokes an image of wildness.
For centuries, Canada geese have passed through Massachusetts on their migrations to and from their arctic breeding grounds.
Prior to the 1930's, it was unusual for geese to nest here, yet today in Massachusetts you can find Canada geese any time of the year. In fact, in some areas, people feel that there are too many geese! Why the change?
In the 1960s and early '70s, a translocation project carried out by MassWildlife involved moving birds from the coast into central and western Massachusetts to the applause of both hunters and non-hunters. No one imagined the population explosion which followed. With the above factors and town-imposed restrictions on hunting, resident goose flocks grew.
In 1983, MassWildlife biologists estimated 10-12,000 of the geese were probably year-round residents. By 1997, survey estimated 38,000 geese statewide. As goose numbers increased, so did problems, especially with goose droppings (poop).
Canada geese produce from half pound to a pound and half of droppings per day. Now geese are on golf courses, in gardens, over shellfish beds, on lawns, beaches, water supplies and cranberry bogs. What can be done ?
Geese form permanent pair bonds, but if one bird dies, the other will seek a new mate in the next breeding season.
Most Canada geese don't begin nesting until they are three years old. Adult females lay 4-6 eggs in a clutch. If the clutch is destroyed, geese generally don't re-nest, but with two large birds guarding a nest, the chances of success are good.
Usually by the time the young are 4-6 weeks old, the broods begin gathering in large flocks. Non-breeders and yearlings form separate flocks. By fall, they all gather into one large flock for the winter.