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Canada goose (Branta canadensis )

Votes : 3616


Canada goose Photo illustration: Canadian Geographic; Photo: T Pero / CG Photo Club

This big waterbird has a long neck, large body, webbed feet and flat bill. Its head and neck are black, though its cheeks and chin are white, and its back is brown. The Canada goose prefers rivers and freshwater bodies across Canada, and winters in southern North America.

IDENTIFICATION
(Both Sexes) Weight 3-9 kg Length 0.76-1.1 m Wingspan 1.27-1.7 m Canada goose range map Range map courtesy iBird for Windows
Click to enlarge

Vote for the Canada goose for Canada’s National Bird


Essays

Comments and essays appear in the language in which they were submitted

Big, bold and fiercely loyal

I'm excited. The choosing of an official national bird for Canada would allow us to finally mitigate the egregious error we made in naming the beaver as our national rodent, a creature whose most noble trait - I've often pointed out - is that he thinks to slap his tail and warn his buddies before he runs away. Joining Castor canadensis as national icon, I thereby nominate the strikingly coloured and conveniently named Canada goose.

Like the beaver, the Canada goose has webbed feet, but that's where the similarities end. Canada geese don't run away from anyone. They are highly adaptable to human environments, meaning they aren't intimidated by us in the least. They will chase you across a public park simply because they don't like the looks of you. These are big, bad-tempered birds. The largest of the species, Branta canadensis maxima, can weigh a whopping eight kilos, with a wingspan of two metres. (A typical bald eagle? Six kilograms, with a wingspan of 1.9 metres. I'm just sayin'.)

The Canada goose flies in distinctively crisp V-formation and is highly vocal, handsomely plumed and - being Canadian - likes to winter occasionally in Mexico. This is a goose with attitude. If birds could get tattoos, I have no doubt that the Canada goose would be first in line. But they are also fiercely loyal. Among the first to arrive in spring, and last to leave in winter, they mate for life and both parents share in raising their young. A fine role model all round, I'd say. And if I'm going to be chased through a public park anyway, I would rather it be by a national emblem.

— Submitted on Monday, December 15, 2014 by Will Ferguson

Will Ferguson is author of the novel 419, which won the 2012 Giller Prize. His next work, the travel memoir Road Trip Rwanda, will be published by Penguin in 2015. He lives in Calgary.

Featured

For many years we have been a country united by the unique culture found nowhere else on earth. That culture is best represented by what can be seen nearly anywhere in canada; our diverse wildlife.

Anywhere from Wawa, Ontario to the sunny skies of the Prairies, our Canada Goose plays a large role in the culture of Canada in ways no other bird can or would. Try stopping at gift shop near the Canada US border, and look for anything with a bird that doesn't have slender neck and large wingspan with deep brown plumage. Our Canada Goose has an impact on the lives of all Canadians.

If you want a perfect metaphor for Canada's outlook on dealing with issues, look no further than the skies in spring or autumn. When the wondrous and chiming sounds of geese rule the clouds in their bi-annual migration periods, the idea of unity, strength and organisation comes to mind.

If Canadians are known globally for any one thing, I believe that one thing would be humility. We need not stand on a pedestal nor bow to a foe. We greet each day with grace, as long as our flock is nearby.

We stand strong because we have hope, we have each other, and we have pride.

— Submitted on Wednesday, July 20, 2016 by Jason Harris (North Bay, ON) Featured

I was close to voting for the Loon when I realized that while yes the Loon does stay and the Canada Goose migrates. It often reminds us of the winter to come that we must prepare and brace ourselves against the elements & most importantly think of the less fortunate in Canada; the Homeless and remember that while in The United States Of America people are banned and forbidden by law to feed a Homeless person due to increasing classism and Elitism that plagues the U.S. ... we can remain free and beyond hatred & lies about the poor.

The Geese look out for their flock... and when one becomes tired in formation? Another advances to take it's place. They support each-other through thick and thin. Too often Canadians forget this and the Canada Goose as our National Bird can remind us to remain noble and on guard as Geese typically are when it comes to defending themselves and their young especially.

I come from Winnipeg,Manitoba and in our province we have a place called Oak Hammock Marsh. A very iconic attraction that has entertained for many years, especially in my siblings and my own childhood's. The Geese can be very competitive when fed at a time not many visitors take part in feeding them due to the fact they can aggressively ask for what you may not have. It's been a while since I last visited so I do not specifically recall when or if there is a policy in play to not feed them so I'd ask first. I do have memories of being challenged by a Canada Goose and from what I recall they are very bold not to mention intimidating with their hissing sound; especially more so when a group is acting defensively as they will all stand together.

Speaking of standing together, that is something I feel Canada needs; between the never ending challenge of a respectable relationship between the majority of Canadians and Canadian First Nations and the divide that threatens to open between Anglo & Francophone. I feel that the Canada Goose would signify that extra needed reminder that "We are one!" & to stand together.

The Canada Goose also signifies Unity in other ways. Such as the beloved V formation of which I've talked so much about. The V is an aerodynamic formation to cut through the air and strong winds with extra efficiency in communication; and energy conservation. This formation requires group effort on the part of the Geese so it serves as an example of discipline (of which I think is one of the hardest virtues to acquire & maintain) so it would be wise of us to consider the Canada Goose as an example of the discipline we need to acquire, maintain or both. It also reminds of the V for Vendetta movie perhaps.

Yes the Loon is already on the Loonie and how much more cheesy could you get to desire this not so new comparison to our possible competition with The United States which has many holdings in booth the Loon and Lunacy... yet we always seem to get called out as the "Loonies" due to our currency being just that... Loonie. Would it be so far as to see that perhaps we'd spell out our fate with increasing Lunacy to go down the yellow-brick road straight to the Loonie bin?

I'd say although perhaps a tough call the Canada Goose of which we have a a bus-service named after called "Grey-Goose" which from what I understand still operates in Thompson Manitoba. It used to be more visible in Winnipeg whether I live with at least one bus-depot for it here. Not as well coined as Grey-hound but still; the Goose is a well respected bird where I come from which contributes to my bias :-).

The Goose has several uses including Pen-Quills, Down-Feathers for thermal insulation against harsh Canadian winters and arctic conditions. Pillows and most notably sustenance for those living in the true frontiers of Canada.

China has used Geese as police quite literally. Brazil has used Geese as a security system. So while people argue that Geese 'overpopulate' (Geese 4-5 million... Humans... 7+ billion and growing exponentially) or that Geese 'beg for food' (they fly a LONG way and do find food on their own!)... or that Geese are found on Golf courses (at least something bugs the rich & privileged not to say they may or may not have worked for that privilege).

I'd say Canada should safely go with the Canada Goose despite the compelling arguments for the Common Loon at least with the Canada Goose we could have a sense of pride that despite the dangers & predators (US Bald Eagle) we will defend our own and hold fast to the virtues of Unity, Peace, Discipline. In all of this exists the appeal of Warmth amidst the bitter cold lays an ember still burning in our hearts through the passing of seasons marked in the Canada Goose's migration as they mark beyond our calendars flipping the passage of time through the matrix of life.

— Submitted on Tuesday, January 12, 2016 by Joshua Hitching (Winnipeg, MB) Featured

Dear Sirs,

We are a group of French speaking old-age residants at la Cité des Tours. We call ourselves The Brainy Types of the City des Tours. Every Monday at four o'clock we meet to speak English while discussing current affaires in Canada. Today as our first topic we discussed the National Bird Project and decided to vote on a name for Canada's national bird. We voted unanimously for the Canada Goose.

Thank you for submitting this name to the committee involved in the selection of our national bird and look forward to hearing from you soon.

Yours truly.

Monique Boulet for
The Brainy Types at La CitÉ des Tours.

— Submitted on Monday, March 30, 2015 by Monique Boulet (St Jean, QC) Featured

I have just come back from a lovely walk along the Oldman River that flows through Lethbridge. All winter, I have greatly enjoyed the haunting calls of the thousands of Canada Geese that overwinter in the vicinity. Growing up, I remember running outside and gazing skyward in both spring and fall whenever I heard the migrating flocks of geese going over. The sound has always filled my heart with joy and a sense of optimism.

While I was born a prairie girl, I have also lived and worked in the Maritimes and Yukon and travelled extensively across Canada. It seems that wherever I have gone, Canada Geese were to be found nearby. They are common in both large urban areas and in the most remote wilderness. Indeed, I believe that more Canadians would have an opportunity to directly observe Canada Geese than most any other species of bird. Somehow, the presence of Canada Geese made me feel that I was at home anywhere I have been in our great nation.

When selecting a national bird, I think that Canadians would do well to choose one that is common across our nation and may be found, in at least some Canadian locations, year round. While some of the other species popular with voters also meet these criteria, the Canada Goose has several other important characteristics that make it an excellent choice as a national bird. Among these traits are 1) its loyalty to its mate and the care that both parents take in raising its young, 2) the important role Canada Geese have played, and continue to play, in providing an important source of food to indigenous peoples and early explorers and pioneers as well as modern day hunters, and 3) its adaptability to a wide range of habitat conditions.

Thank you for allowing Canadians an opportunity to provide their thoughts on such a worthy initiative.

— Submitted on Sunday, February 8, 2015 by Esther Kienholz (Lethbridge, AB) Featured

Geese.

What does that image conjure up for you?

Rude awakening at 7:30 a.m. to honking hordes flying past your bedroom window?

Picking your way through the poop to navigate your way as your walk your local waterfront trail?

Stupid geese!

Not so, I say. In fact, they’re pretty smart

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destal nor bow to a foe. We greet each day with grace, as long as our flock is nearby.

We stand strong because we have hope, we have each other, and we have pride.

— Submitted on Wednesday, July 20, 2016 by Jason Harris (North Bay, ON) Featured

I was close to voting for the Loon when I realized that while yes the Loon does stay and the Canada Goose migrates. It often reminds us of the winter to come that we must prepare and brace ourselves against the elements & most importantly think of the less fortunate in Canada; the Homeless and remember that while in The United States Of America people are banned and forbidden by law to feed a Homeless person due to increasing classism and Elitism that plagues the U.S. ... we can remain free and beyond hatred & lies about the poor.

The Geese look out for their flock... and when one becomes tired in formation? Another advances to take it's place. They support each-other through thick and thin. Too often Canadians forget this and the Canada Goose as our National Bird can remind us to remain noble and on guard as Geese typically are when it comes to defending themselves and their young especially.

I come from Winnipeg,Manitoba and in our province we have a place called Oak Hammock Marsh. A very iconic attraction that has entertained for many years, especially in my siblings and my own childhood's. The Geese can be very competitive when fed at a time not many visitors take part in feeding them due to the fact they can aggressively ask for what you may x|M{K visited so I do not specifically recall when or if there is a policy in play to not feed them so I'd ask first. I do have memories of being challenged by a Canada Goose and from what I recall they are very bold not to mention intimidating with their hissing sound; especially more so when a group is acting defensively as they will all stand together.

Speaking of standing together, that is something I feel Canada needs; between the never ending challenge of a respectable relationship between the majority of Canadians and Canadian First Nations and the divide that threatens to open between Anglo & Francophone. I feel that the Canada Goose would signify that extra needed reminder that "We are one!" & to stand together.

The Canada Goose also signifies Unity in other ways. Such as the beloved V formation of which I've talked so much about. The V is an aerodynamic formation to cut through the air and strong winds with extra efficiency in communication; and energy conservation. This formation requires group effort on the part of the Geese so it serves as an example of discipline (of which I think is one of the hardest virtues to acquire & maintain) so it would be wise of us to consider the Canada Goose as an example of the discipline we need to acquire, maintain or both. It also reminds of the V for Vendetta movie perhaps.

Yes the Loon is already on the Loonie and how much more cheesy could you get to desire this not so new comparison to our possible competition with The United States which has many holdings in booth the Loon and Lunacy... yet we always seem to get called out as the "Loonies" due to our currency being just that... Loonie. Would it be so far as to see that perhaps we'd spell out our fate with increasing Lunacy to go down the yellow-brick road straight to the Loonie bin?

I'd say although perhaps a tough call the Canada Goose of which we have a a bus-service named after called "Grey-Goose" which from what I understand still operates in Thompson Manitoba. It used to be more visible in Winnipeg whether I live wi