Canada Goose

Branta canadensis
Range Map

Canada Geese range over most of North America and parts of northern Mexico. Illustrating how familiarity breeds contempt, not everyone loves the Canada Goose. They are large birds and their presence in public spaces is commonplace, and their fertilizing reminders are not always welcome. We nearly killed off the largest members of this tribe, the Giant Canada Goose (B. c. maxima) in the early 1900s through unregulated hunting, egg collecting, and habitat destruction. In the 1950s, we believed them to be extinct. Reintroductions and flat-out introductions have been so successful, there may be more of them now than ever.

Also on display in this gallery is a Cackling Goose (Branta hutchinsii). Once considered a smaller subspecies of the Canada Goose, but geneticists studying the species persuaded us to separate as its own species in 2004.

There are seven subspecies of Canada Goose:

  • B. c. moffitti breeds in breeds from British Columbia east to Manitoba (Canada) and south, from west of the Rocky Mountains, to northeastern California. We have introduced them to Oklahoma and Texas. Many members of this subspecies remain year-round on the breeding grounds, but some migrate south in winter as far as Baja California.
  • B. c. maxima was nearly extirpated in the 1900s, but we reintroduced it in Midwestern states on the Mississippi Flyway. Now they mostly stay year round wherever we find them.
  • B. c. occidentalis breeds in southern Alaska along the Copper River delta and on islands in the Gulf of Alaska and Prince William Sound. They spend winters from the Colombia River valley, in Washington and Oregon.
  • B. c. fulva breeds on islands and along the coast of southeastern Alaska, south to British Columbia. Most birds are year-round residents, but some move south to the Willamette Valley in Oregon.
  • B. c. parvipes breeds in the boreal region from Alaska east to Canada (Nunavut and British Columbia) east to the Hudson Bay. They spend winters from Washington, southeast to Colorado and Oklahoma, and sometimes as far south as Baja California (Mexico).
  • B. c. canadensis breeds in Canada on Baffin Island and south to Quebec east to Newfoundland. They spend winters along the Atlantic seaboard from Newfoundland and Nova Scotia, south to New Jersey, sometimes as far south as Georgia.
  • B. c. interior breeds in Canada (Manitoba, Baffin Island and Quebec) and sometimes in Greenland. Some may breed south to Minnesota and Michigan. They spend winters inland from Minnesota east to Pennsylvania and south to Texas and northwestern Florida.

I’ve enjoyed meetings with these large birds throughout many states in the western USA. Fuzzy babies of any birds species are always fun to meet. Canada Geese are no exception.

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