Both Canada geese and cackling geese males and females look alike. Adults grow to be between 60 cm and 90 cm tall and between 4.5 kg and 5.5 kg. They have a greyish body with a long black neck and head and their faces have white cheek patches. Both sub-species can vary in size. Canada geese are the larger of the sub-species that nest mainly inland and southerly. Cackling geese are the smaller sub-speciesand nest mainly northerly, in tundra.
Habits & Behaviours
Both Canada Geese and Cackling Geese can be found throughout Ontario. They are typically migratory birds, however, some geese have adapted very well to southerly climates in several areas and these geese are commonly referred to as ’resident’ geese.
They nest and breed in and around residential, recreational/cottage, and commercial properties and they have a rather large breeding capacity. Areas of concern include farmlands, airports, urban parks, golf courses, schools, cemeteries, and residential properties, especially those that offer a lot of open green space near wetlands.
Over the years, geese populations have increase substantially. This is due to that fact that we provide them with everything they require. Most agriculture areas provide them with an unlimited year-round supply of high quality food and water. Increasing urban/suburban developments provide them with a good supply of food and protection from both natural predators and human hunters.
Although geese mostly feed on land, they usually nest near water and prefer secluded areas. Water is used for drinking, preening, and bathing, and is the best avenue of escape when flightless young and moulting adult geese are threatened. Once a year, geese must grow new wing feathers, a process called moulting, which leaves the geese unable to fly for several weeks.
Because young geese tend to return to nests where they were raised and migration behaviour is learned from their parents, these temperate-breeding populations continue to grow. Geese forage during the day and sleep at night. Geese are known as nuisance pest birds due to their territorial and troublesome nesting habits.
Complaints & Destruction
Once geese have established their nests, encouraging them to leave an area can be difficult. Because their population numbers tend to increase over time, geese can cause a variety of problems. They can damage and compress grass, plants, and crops and erode soil in parks, golf courses, and other green spaces. Goose droppings can cause major aesthetic damage and foul walking paths, golf courses, parks, green space, docks, beaches, lawns, and may contribute to the contamination of nearby water with parasites and coliform bacteria. They can cause significant damage to agricultural crops by trampling and consumption. Geese can become highly aggressive towards humans or animals to protect their nests and goslings. They are also attracted to sensitive areas such as airports and can increase the risk of damage or danger and compromise air safety.
Major Risks & Dangers
Accumulation of Feces
Geese deposit large amounts of feces anywhere and everywhere. Often, these are high-use areas by humans such as swimming beaches, parks, golf courses, sports fields, lawns, and docks. Accumulations can reach levels that cause people to avoid the areas.
Large accumulations of feces can contaminate rivers, lakes, streams, and other bodies of water as rains wash the fecal matter into the water. Goose feces are high in phosphorus and nitrogen, nutrients that in excess can cause nuisance blooms of algae and aquatic plants in ponds and lakes. An excess of algae and submerged plants can lead to oxygen depletion at night due to plant respiration, and can kill fish.
In addition, goose feces can contain a variety of pathogens, such as giardia and coliform bacteria, which can cause illness in humans. Large concentrations of these pathogens in pond and lake water can cause illness through accidental ingestion.
Geese eat grass, sometimes causing grass cover to be reduced down to barren earth. They will also damage landscaping and plants. Repair and replacement of grasses and ornamental plantings can be costly.
Adult geese with goslings or eggs in a nest are very defensive and will nip or hit people and animals with their wings. Small children are particularly vulnerable to attacks.
Many municipalities report an increase in car collisions as geese populations grow. The birds will often walk to areas which necessitates crossing roads. Their large size can cause damage to a vehicle.
Geese have benefited from agriculture more than any other bird species. Damage is caused by grazing on plants as well as by trampling emerging seedlings. Virtually all agriculture grain crops are at risk.
Female and male geese are monogamous birds that mate for life, however, if a mate dies, they will re-mate. Pairs seek and establish nesting sites early in the spring and then start laying clutches of eggs. An average clutch contains 5 or 6 eggs, but some may contain 10 or more eggs. Incubation lasts approximately 25 days, with peak hatching season occurring in early to mid-May. The young are called “goslings” and are collectively known as a brood. The brood-rearing period, the time from hatch until young geese are able to fly, lasts approximately two months. Geese usually seek their own mate when they are 2 years of age and start breeding at 3 years of age.
Canada Geese are herbivores. In natural areas, their foods include grass and other tender plants, seeds and berries, as well as aquatic vegetation. In agricultural areas, they eat grasses, cultivated grains and some vegetable crops.
To reduce the risk of geese nesting and breeding around your residential, recreational/cottage, or commercial property, bird proofing and exclusion is the best prevention.
Greenshield Pest Control Inc. can provide you with many bird proofing/exclusion services and solutions.
Canada Geese and Cackling Geese are migratory birds that are protected under Canadian law. Killing and capturing the birds or damaging, destroying, removing, or disturbing their nests is strictly prohibited, except as provided for under the law. Greenshield Pest Control abides by the law. If colonies of geese are nesting on your residential, recreational/cottage, or commercial property, it is best to let the professionals do the job of safely and humanely removing the birds, decontaminating the areas affected and provide you with exclusion/proofing services to prevent further infestations. Please contact us today or see our Bird Control Services section for further information on the types of services and solutions we can provide.
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