fledgling and parental care
One of the most famous goose species in North America, the Canada goose (Canada Goose) Breeds in large areas of Canada and the northern and central United States. But with such a vast range, what nesting sites do Canada geese prefer? Did they ever nest in trees? If you want to find out—and it might surprise you—then read on!
Canada geese typically look for nests near or even surrounded by water. Nests are often built on the edge of ponds or on top of raised areas on islets. Only the female will hatch, but the male will stay nearby for protection from predators.
High places, such as the tops of muskrat mounds or beaver dams, are often chosen as nesting sites because they provide a good all-round view of any approaching threats.
Waterside nesting sites are important – once they are able to walk (usually within 24 hours of hatching), goslings are taken to ponds or lakes where they swim and feed.
Our complete Canada Goose Nesting Guide includes in-depth information on nest building, incubation times and brood size, so read on to find out more.
|Key Canada Goose Nesting Facts
|April to August
|grass, reeds, lichens, moss, twigs, twigs, feathers
|bowl-shaped scratches, usually slightly raised
|near the shore and edge of water, sometimes on small islands
|2 – 8 eggs
|white, but may appear darker
|56 mm x 83 mm
|25 to 28 days, by female
|Usually 1 to 2 days after hatching
|No, but the same location will be used
|using nest boxes
A pair of nesting Canada geese with the female incubating her eggs in the nest
Where do Canada geese nest?
Canada geese nest on or near the edges of wetlands or on small islands. Nests with good visibility in all directions are preferred to increase the chances of spotting any approaching intruders. Arctic populations nest in sedge vegetation on the tundra.
Do Canada geese nest in the same place every year?
Canada geese mate for life, returning to the same nesting site year after year. They will rebuild their nest in a similar place to a previous successful nest, as it is unlikely that the old nest will be intact enough to be used again.
Do Canada Geese Nest in Backyards?
Preferred nesting sites for Canada geese are on the edges of wetlands or on small islands in lakes and ponds. They choose breeding sites with easy access to water, and are able to lead their young on walks to the water’s edge.
If your garden fits this bill, there’s always the chance that you’ll attract a breeding pair of Canada Geese, since they’re relatively tolerant of human company. Without a clearly visible route to a pond, they are unlikely to breed in traditional-sized urban backyards.
Canada geese usually nest at the edge of wetlands
What tree do Canada geese nest in?
Strange as it may sound, Canada geese have been documented making their homes in large tree nests abandoned by species like bald eagles. These are very rare, as most Canada geese prefer ground-level nests near water. But some pairs don’t hesitate to use a nest at a higher altitude.
How tall is Canada Goose bird’s nest?
The nests used by Canada geese are usually slightly above the water, such as on top of a muskrat mound or a pile of muddy debris.
Canada geese nesting on a small island
What does Canada Goose bird’s nest look like?
Canada geese build their nests on raised mounds near water, forming bowl-shaped scratches in wetland vegetation, which they then build out of grasses, lichens, and whatever other plant material they find nearby.
During incubation, the female may continue to modify the nest, gradually adding a layer of down around the eggs.
How big is Canada Goose bird’s nest?
Canada geese nests are large enough to support brooding mother geese. The nest is between 30 and 100 cm (12 and 40 in) in diameter.
Close up of a Canadian goose nest with unhatched eggs
What time of year do Canada geese nest?
The timing of nesting depends largely on geography, with Canada geese living in farther north latitudes delaying breeding until May or June.
Geese living further south arrive at breeding grounds in early spring, and in some places nesting behavior can be observed as early as March.
How long do Canada geese nest?
From the start of the nesting process to the hatching of the goslings, the incubation time can be anywhere from 30 to 37 days. Canada geese incubate their eggs for 25 to 28 days.
What month do Canada geese lay eggs?
Canada geese typically spawn between March and June, although later breeding may occur in higher latitudes, and paired geese in Alaska have been recorded to typically lay eggs in July.
Where do Canada geese nest in winter?
The nest is only used by Canada geese during the breeding season and will not be used after the chicks have left.
During the winter, many Canada geese fly south to overwinter in slightly warmer climates, spending the night on the water as this provides the safest resting option, keeping them away from predators.
Close-up of a Canada goose sitting on a high nest among the reeds
How do Canada geese build their nests?
The nest site is chosen by the female Canada Geese, who then builds the nest alone, while the male stays nearby and guards the site.
The female makes a shallow scratch in the vegetation, then forms it into a bowl-shaped nest using plant matter found around the nest location. After spawning, repairs and remodeling continued.
What do Canada geese nest with?
Canada geese nests are made of plants, including grasses, reeds, lichens, and mosses, as well as whatever twigs and twigs are available nearby. As incubation progresses, the female adds a layer of soft down around the eggs.
Do male or female Canada geese nest?
Nest building is the responsibility of the female Canada Geese, while the males stay nearby and disperse any predators that might try to approach the site.
A pair of Canada geese looking for a suitable nesting site
What do Canada goose eggs look like?
Canada goose eggs are 5.6 cm (2.2 in) wide and 8.3 cm (3.3 in) long. They are creamy in color but may be soiled by vegetation used for nesting.
How many eggs do Canada geese lay?
A typical clutch of eggs laid by Canada geese contains 2 to 8 eggs. After hatching, it is not uncommon for a pair of Canada geese to care for double or even triple as many goslings as they do.
It might surprise you to think they hatched all of them, but chances are they didn’t! Canada geese are a social species, with goslings typically raised by a pair of parents in “groups” of up to 100 goslings.
Do male Canada geese sit on eggs?
Only the female Canada Geese incubate and sit on the nest. Males are never far away and keep a close eye on their mates and unhatched young, and once the goslings hatch, the family group forages together.
Closeup of four unhatched Canada goose eggs in a nest
fledgling and parental care
When do baby Canada geese leave the nest?
After hatching, goslings can leave the nest within a day or two, with weather being a key factor. In inclement weather, young Canada geese can rely on food in the yolk sack for up to two days before needing to leave the nest to forage.
How many broods do Canada geese have?
All but the southernmost populations are single-bred. If the nest fails, a second brood attempt may be made about 14 to 20 days later.
A Canada Goose Family – two adults and their goslings
Do Canada Geese Abandon Their Nests?
If a Canada goose nest fails, the pair will abandon the site and, depending on the delay in the breeding season, may attempt to re-nest at a new location.
Do Canada geese nest on the ground?
Canada geese build their nests on the ground, slightly raised to allow them an unobstructed view of the surrounding area.
Young Canada Goose Chicks (Little Goose)
Where do Canada geese nest at night?
Canada geese do not use the nest at night, except for the female during incubation. Instead, they sleep on open water, safe from the dangers of land-based predators.
How to Attract Nesting Canada Geese?
Canada geese look for two key factors when choosing a nest – easy access to water and unobstructed views in all directions. Adding decoy geese to the edge of the pond may entice passing geese to stop and inspect for themselves.
However, the species is considered by some to be an agricultural pest due to the widespread damage to grasslands caused by overgrazing and large amounts of manure.
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I am broadly interested in how human activities influence the ability of wildlife to persist in the modified environments that we create.
Specifically, my research investigates how the configuration and composition of landscapes influence the movement and population dynamics of forest birds. Both natural and human-derived fragmenting of habitat can influence where birds settle, how they access the resources they need to survive and reproduce, and these factors in turn affect population demographics. Most recently, I have been studying the ability of individuals to move through and utilize forested areas which have been modified through timber harvest as they seek out resources for the breeding and postfledging phases. As well I am working in collaboration with Parks Canada scientists to examine in the influence of high density moose populations on forest bird communities in Gros Morne National Park. Many of my projects are conducted in collaboration or consultation with representatives of industry and government agencies, seeking to improve the management and sustainability of natural resource extraction.