Friday, May 20, 2011

Canada Goose Family

Canada Geese mate the second year and are monogamous throughout their lives, but if a mate is lost, the remaining goose will find another mate. They breed earlier in the season than most birds. The goslings usually hatch when the plants are at their highest nutritional value. Those residing in temperate climates begin nesting as soon as the conditions are favorable. Those nesting further north start in late April or early May.

Most nest sites are located near water. The sites chosen offer protection from the wind while still giving the female a clear line of sight. The nest is usually built in a depression on the ground and lined with soft grass and feathers.

A clutch usually consists of 4 to 8 eggs. Both parents assume responsibility for protecting the nest and incubating the eggs, but the female spends more time incubating the eggs. She will leave the nest long enough to feed and bathe before returning to her brood. During the incubation phase (25 to 28 days), the adults molt, losing their flight feathers and cannot fly.

Newly hatched Canada Geese are covered with a yellow down.

The gosling's down gives way to feathers and usually fledge (fly) between 6 and 9 weeks of age. The family unit remains together until the spring migration.

Females always return to their place of origin, nesting close to where they hatched.

The family unit stays together with the female leading, goslings following along in a row with the gander bringing up the rear. This arrangement is often called a crèche. Both parents protect their young, becoming violent when necessary.