Office:  530.823.3628

  Mailing Address

1431 Merry Knoll Road

Auburn, CA  95603

Serving greater Sacramento and neighboring Foothill communities

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Canada Geese Information

The sub-species commonly found in the western US is the western Canada goose, which includes the Pacific and the Rocky Mountain Populations.

The Rocky Mountain Population nests in the northern Rocky Mountains and migrates southward, including into northern California, via the Pacific Flyway (see Flyway map at bottom of page). The Pacific Population resides in the more western states. In the milder climates of the western states the geese are generally non-migratory.

US Fish & Wildlife Service estimates the 2011 Pacific Population at 166,300, a 15% increase over the prior year’s estimate USFWS Waterfowl Population Status, 2011 report

Nesting occurs in spring with 5-6 egg average clutch.  26-28 day incubation period starting after all eggs are laid so that goslings are born the same day. Only females incubate the eggs, males guard the nest and can be quite nasty in their protection.  Nests are built very close to water for food and safety. Nesting occurs at or very near the same site each year. Creating non-desirous nesting sites is key to reducing goose populations. If the nest is destroyed (or eggs removed), they may re-nest.

Molting is the replacement of adult flight feathers in summer, coinciding with later stages of gosling development. Molting lasts about one month for each bird. There is some variation in dates with when molt starts, resulting in a six to eight week molt season. During molt geese are flightless and more vulnerable to predators. Hazing with dogs is curtailed during this period to ensure flightless adult geese and pre-flight goslings are not harmed.   

Diet  Primarily herbivores, preferring tender young plants, with an affinity for fertilized lawns! They will also eat grains, cattails, small aquatic insects and snails.

Social Style  Form strong social bonds with mate and family group. When a large flock of geese is dispersed by the dogs, the geese typically break up into the social units of 25 to 40 birds. Canada geese are monogamous, pairing for life. When conditions allow, they will nest near each other in gang broods of about 20 birds.


Why are Canada Geese considered a nuisance?

Federally Protected Both migratory and resident Canada geese are federally protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Birds and their eggs or nests cannot be harmed or destroyed (as well as a host of other actions) without federal and state permits. Fines for misdemeanor convictions under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act can be as high as $15,000. See Regulations & Links page for additional information.

Migratory Canada geese nest and molt in Canada and the northern United States during spring/summer and migrate southward during the fall to spend the winter. They may mix with resident Canada geese during the migration period.

Resident Canada geese nest and molt in the lower United States during spring and summer and “micro-migrate” within the same region for the remainder of the year. They will “pond hop” within their nesting region during the fall and winter seeking better feeding sites.  

Canada Geese Activity Calendar

Cartoon use with permission and courtesy of Linda Cousey (© Linda Cousey 2007)  

Migratory Flyways for Waterfowl
 (including Canada geese)

Pacific Flyway - Red         Central Flyway - Green

Mississippi Flyway - Blue   Atlantic Flyway - Black

Source:  US Fish & Wildlife Service