Canada Geese Facts

Facts about Canada Geese










Each adult goose is capable of dropping up to 2 lbs of poop daily! On average they consume up to 3 lbs of grass each and every day damaging up to 5 square feet of turf in the process.  There are an estimated 5 million resident Canada geese making their homes in the US.

The US Department of Agriculture’s National Wildlife Research Center report that Canada geese feces present a serious risk to humans:

“Two recently completed studies identified E. coli in goose feces found in urban environments. In a Fort Collins, CO study, the overall prevalence of pathogenic E. coli in Canada goose feces was found to be 25%. Four general potentially pathogenic E. coli and two virulence factors were identified. One virulence factor is known to produce severe diarrhea, while the other is associated as a causative agent of infantile meningitis. In this Fort Collins study, researchers also quantified the amount of feces in parks, estimating that a person taking a 1-mile walk in a park was likely to physically come in contact, on the bottom of his or her shoes, with 4-8 piles of feces that contained virulence determinants. A second national study in New York, Wisconsin, Washington, Oregon and California resulted in findings that were similar to the Colorado study. Together, the two studies suggest that Canada goose feces pose a risk to humans.”

*Source: Avian Diseases: Carriage of Bacterial Pathogens by Canada Geese and Blackbirds United States Department of Agriculture National Wildlife Research Center. 2002.

What do Canada Geese eat?

  • Canada geese are almost entirely herbivorous. They mainly eat aquatic plants, grasses, corn, beans, wheat and rice. They sometimes eat small fish or insects.
  • Life expectancy is about 20 years on average.
  • Migratory geese nest in Canada whereas Resident geese nest in the US.
  • Adult geese weigh between 20-25 pounds.
  • Canada geese populations are growing approximately 19% per year.

Canada Geese migration

  • Migratory geese can fly up to 3,000 miles whereas Resident geese fly up to 200 miles.
  • Mating season is from February to March.
  • Nesting Season is from mid March to mid May.
  • Geese begin to nest at 3 years and return to the general area of their birth each year.
  • Resident geese do not know how to migrate.
  • Female geese can produce up to 80 offspring in their life times.
  • Goslings can fly approximately 2-3 months after hatching.
  • Adult geese lose their wing feathers from early June to late July and are unable to fly. This is called “molting”.
  • Geese can fly again approximately 6 weeks after molting.
  • Geese pairs will mate and stay together for life only searching for a new mate if one dies or is killed.

In the News

‘Miracle on the Hudson’ caused by Canada Geese (Digital Journal)

The US Airways plane collided with a flock of Canada geese approximately 2,900 feet above the ground, after taking off from New York’s LaGuardia Airport. The collision caused extensive damage to both engines five miles from the airport.

The pilot was able to conduct an emergency landing in the Hudson River—all 155 people on board survived with few serious injuries. Investigators at the National Transportation Safety Board later sent feathers and tissue extracted from the plane’s engines to the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C., for analysis.

Researchers in the Feather Identification Laboratory at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History used molecular genetic techniques and feather samples from museum collections, as well as a technique developed for rapid species identification with small genetic samples called DNA bar-coding, to determine that the birds involved were Canada geese (Branta canadensis).    Read more

Other Articles:

U.S. takes a gander at geese problem (USA Today)

Goose Wars (

Earth Matters: Bird-plane collisions on the rise (

For some, health threat helps justify goose kill (Seattle Post)

For Air Safety, 400 park geese are killed (NY Times)

Snow Geese Population Growing out of Control (Examiner)