Canada goose

(Branta canadensis)




Facts about this animal

The Canada goose has about 12 subspecies, which have minor differences regarding the colouration of the plumage, but vary considerably in size and weight, the largest being the giant Canada goose (Branta c. maxima) with a body-weight of 6.5 kg in males and 5.5 kg in females, and the smallest the Aleutian (Branta c. leucopareia) and cackling (Branta c. minima) Canada geese with body-weights of slightly below 2 kg.

Bill and feet are black. The plumage of the head and neck is black except for a white chin strap extending from the throat to behind the eyes. Depending of subspecies, there may be a white band around the lower neck. Upper parts of the body and wings are darker grey, the breast is somewhat lighter. Lower belly and vent are white, the rump is black and the tail is black with white coverts.

4 to 6 white or creamy-white eggs are laid in a nest usually located near water, which are incubated exclusively by the female for 24-28 days.

The Canada goose’s food includes pond plants, tubers, roots and algae, grasses, short reed grasses, berries, seed, crops like clover, alfalfa, wheat, rye, corn, barley, oats and grain left in fields after the harvest.

Did you know?
That these geese are also renowned for their V-shaped flight formation? The front position is rotated since flying in front consumes the most energy.


Class AVES
Suborder ANSERES
Name (Scientific) Branta canadensis
Name (English) Canada goose
Name (French) Bernache du Canada
Name (German) Kanadagans
Name (Spanish) Barnacla canadiense
Local names Estonian: Kanada lagle
Finnish: Kanadanhi
Swedish: KanadagÄs
CITES Status Appendix I (subspecies leucopareia only)
CMS Status Appendix II (as Anatidae spp.) INVASIVE SPECIES!



Photo Copyright by
Andreas Trepte



Range Breeds in Canada, Alaska (USA), and parts of the northern USA, and winters in southern North America, including Mexico. Vagrants may be seen in Eastern Asia and on Pacific Islands. Introduced populations exist in North America south of the natural breeding range and in many European countries.
Habitat Grassland (tundra), wetlands (on the coast and inland), arable land, city parks.
Wild population Global population large, estimates range from 1,000,000 to 10,000,000.
Zoo population 1023 reported to ISIS (2006). This includes unidentified subspecies and subspecific hybrids as well as the following subspecies: canadensis, fulva, hutchinsii, maxima, minima, moffitti, occidentalis,and parvipes.

In the Zoo

Canada goose


How this animal should be transported

For air transport, Container Note 17 of the IATA Live Animals Regulations should be followed.


Find this animal on ZooLex


Photo Copyright by
Mila Zinkova

Why do zoos keep this animal

The Canada goose is kept for educational reasons, often in mixed exhibits for North American fauna together with ungulates, cranes and other waterfowl. Outside the breeding season it may be kept in walk-thru exhibits, allowing for close encounters with the public. It is this a good ambassador species for wetland conservation. In Europe it may also serve as a good example of an invasive species. In North America, and parts of Europe, many Canada geese seen in zoos are not birds "kept" by the zoo, but free-flying birds having chosen the zoo as their habitat.