Canada Goose (Branta canadensis)
Cooper Marsh, Lancaster, Ontario, Canada
April 22, 2011
Last week, I’d spotted a Canada on the east side of the west marsh, so I thought I’d check things out and see if it was still there on Friday. It was and a couple of shots were taken, but I wasn’t overly impressed with the results. So I started to move on and, as I looked to my right, this beauty was in the water, about 6 feet from me. It wasn’t overly concerned and continued browsing through the weeds, completely ignoring me. A much appreciated photo opportunity!
A few Branta facts, courtesy of www.allaboutbirds.org
At least 11 subspecies of Canada Goose have been recognized, although only a couple are distinctive. In general, the geese get smaller as you move northward, and darker as you go westward. The four smallest forms are now considered a different species: the Cackling Goose.
Some migratory populations of the Canada Goose are not going as far south in the winter as they used to. This northward range shift has been attributed to changes in farm practices that makes waste grain more available in fall and winter, as well as changes in hunting pressure and changes in weather.
Individual Canada Geese from most populations make annual northward migrations after breeding. Non-breeding geese, or those that lost nests early in the breeding season, may move anywhere from several kilometers to more than 1500 km northward. There they take advantage of vegetation in an earlier state of growth to fuel their molt. Even members of “resident” populations, which do not migrate southward in winter, will move north in late summer to molt.
The “giant” Canada Goose, Branta canadensis maxima, bred from central Manitoba to Kentucky but was nearly driven extinct in the early 1900s. Programs to reestablish the subspecies to its original range were in many places so successful that the geese have become a nuisance in many urban and suburban areas.
In a pattern biologists call “assortative mating,” birds of both sexes tend to choose mates of a similar size.
The oldest known wild Canada Goose was 30 years 4 months old.
Sony Alpha 700, Sigma 28 to 300 at 300 mm, circular polarizer
iso 100, multi-pattern metering, F6.3, 1/80 second