All across North America, Canada Geese are leaving their winter homes to migrate to their breeding grounds in Canada and the northern United States. Over the next month they will gather in flocks by the thousands as they journey north to their breeding grounds to raise the next generation of geese. Canada Geese nest from the Arctic Circle all the way down to the Midwest in habitats as varied as arctic tundra to mall parking lots. Once on their breeding grounds, Canada Geese will begin to “pair up” and will quickly start building nests for raising their young. The timing of nesting varies depending on latitude, with northern birds nesting later than southern birds, but it usually takes place from mid-March to mid-May. Canada Geese nest in a variety of habitats, but almost always nest within 150 feet from a body of water. Females will make a nest in the shape of a cup placed directly on the ground and construct it out of mosses, grass, and feathers. The female will lay anywhere from 2 to 12 eggs with an average of five being the most common. Both male and female will guard the nest vigorously against predators or intruders.
Historically, Canada Geese would breed on lakes, marshes, and tundra, however, in recent decades many geese have taken to breeding in urban environments. Many of these environments share characteristics with their natural habitats. Golf courses, airports, and open lawns are similar to their natural habitat of the tundra in that all offer vast open spaces filled with grasses and other low vegetation that Canada Geese like to eat and nest with. These open spaces also make it easy for geese to see approaching predators and because of this they feel safe nesting in these places.
Their affinity for urban nesting sites has brought Canada Geese into conflict with humans and many urban Canada Geese are now considered pests. Not only does their prolific pooping anger golf course managers and park goers, their size and attraction to airports for nesting sites has made them a real threat to air safety, and they are considered to be the species that poses the greatest and most dangerous threat to aviation. They are not the most common bird involved in air strikes, but they do cause more damage to aircraft than any other species.
What can you do?
There are a few things that can be done to discourage Canada Geese from nesting on airports, most of which involve habitat management and include:
·Allowing grasses to grow to a higher level. Geese prefer shorter grass because it allows them to access the shoots more easily.
·Planting tall shrubs or trees in open areas will also reduce the attractiveness of a site. Geese prefer areas without this type of cover so predators cannot approach them unseen.
·Preventing Canada geese from being able to move from grazing/nesting areas to water without flying is another effective habitat modification. This can be accomplished by installing fencing, placing boulders, or planting tightly growing shrubs around open water.
·Habitat can also be modified by planting less desirable grasses and other plants. For example, Canada geese may avoid tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea) that contains an endophytic fungus.
Loomacres Wildlife Management
P.O. Box 361 – Warnerville, NY 12187
(800)243-1462 – firstname.lastname@example.org