skip to main content

Solano County Office of Education

Solano County Office of Education

Canada Goose (branta canadensis) is a large migratory bird is easily recognized by its black neck and head along with its white chin strap.  It has a white belly and under-tail coverts, light brown to grey chest, and a darker brownish-grey back and wings, along with black tail feathers and feet. 


Canada geese are highly adaptable and live near water sources such as lakes, ponds, marshes, bays. These large “honkers” have traditionally migrated south each year in their traditional V-shaped pattern, however, over the years they have adapted to city living due to habitats such as community park ponds that provide a safe place to live year-round. 


Canada Geese are adept at flying long distances because they travel in flocks using a V-shaped formation.  They do this to conserve energy and to keep track of each bird in the group. By having one bird in the front and the others behind at a slight angle and above, it reduces the wind resistance for all birds. When the lead bird gets tired it will drop back and another bird will take the lead.  This formation also allows them to keep track of each bird traveling together and may help with communication between birds.
Over time, Canada Geese have begun to migrate less as neighborhoods, communities, and refuges have provided for permanent habitats for these birds to live year-round.


Canada geese have a distinctive coloring:Their bodies are mostly brown or grayish-brown with a white or cream-colored chest and throat. They have a long, black neck with a white "chinstrap" that runs from their chin down the sides of their neck.
Their heads are black, and they have a white cheek patch that extends to the back of their eyes.

Role in the Ecosystem

Canada geese provide ecological benefits such as seed dispersal, nutrient enrichment, and serving as prey for predators. Predators of Canada geese and their eggs include coyotes, bobcats, foxes, eagles, crows, ravens and more.  Canada geese can also negatively impact the ecosystem by displacing other native waterfowl, overgrazing natural habitats, causing vegetation loss along shorelines, increasing erosion and sedimentation of water bodies, contributing to declines in water quality, and thwarting ecological restoration efforts.


Fun Fact

Baby geese are called goslings and they can learn to swim within one day of being born. 

Did you know? 

It’s not “Canadian" Goose. When you refer to two or more geese you say Canada geese, not Canadian geese.  Many people make this mistake.