canada geese with goslings - canada geese nesting habits

Canada Goose Nesting Habits

The other day I posted about a pair of Mallard Ducks that have been hanging around our pond which indicates to me that they are probably starting to nest somewhere around my property.   There has also been a pair of Canada Geese coming in but they haven’t been sticking around so much like the Mallards are.   That is a good thing as I do not really welcome the geese as much as the ducks.   Yes, watching little goslings chase after their parents around the pond and seeing them grow throughout their early days is definitely worth the entertainment.  Especially when they are learning to fly….the parents take them up the hill on the other side of the pond and start to run down with them to get them to take off in flight.  I just love watching that!

However, back to the unwelcome part.  You see Mallard Ducks are not a nuisance like the Canada Geese are.  Once you get a couple of geese they start to multiply into many more.  If there is a flock of geese flying over and they see one or two on our pond, odds are they will drop down too.  That is when problems arise such as them congregating on my front lawn and pooping everywhere….yes everywhere!  Did you know that one Canada Goose poops 1 to 3 pounds of droppings per day!  That plus the fact that they block oncoming traffic as they wander onto the road without a care in the world, causing a ruckus from impatient drivers.


goose crossing - canada geese nesting habits



Canada Geese Habitat and Diet

The Canada Goose can be found in North America and are in every state in the United States.  You will find them near bodies of water such as lakes, rivers, streams, marshes, and ponds.  They also like a good manicured lawn especially golf courses, grassy fields, grain fields, and for some reason they like parking lots too.  They are very acclimated to being around humans.

They feed on mostly plant material, aquatic plants, berries, seeds, and worms.  You may see them with their butts up in the air in the water as they feed. Always a hoot to see!


Nesting Habits

Canada Geese begin to mate at around two to three years of age.  They will mate for life unless one dies, then they will find another mate.  The female chooses the nesting spot which is usually on a somewhat elevated ground by water that has an unobstructed view.  They want to  be able to spot predators nearby.  The nest also built by the female, is a shallow bowl made of sticks, grass, weeds, moss, and lined with down feathers.  She is the only one to incubate the eggs with the male on guard.

Canada Geese have one brood with the female laying anywhere from two to eight creamy white eggs.  Incubation takes up to twenty-eight days.  Within twenty four hours the young goslings are able to walk, swim, feed, and dive.  When the young are about two to three months old they learn to fly.

canada geese with goslings - canada geese nesting habits



Migrating Vs. Resident Geese

Did you know that there is a difference between a migrating goose and a resident goose?  Migrating Canada Geese migrate to the deep south of the United States and Mexico in the Fall months.  They will migrate back starting in March only stopping for a day or two along the way back to Canada where they breed.

Resident geese on the other hand do not migrate.  They may relocate to another lake or pond but do not travel like  the actual migrant geese do.  So if you have geese sticking around longer than a day or two they are residents and will probably be back.


Facts About Canada Geese

  • They are also know as Canadian Geese but Canada Geese is the correct term.canada goose - nesting habits of canada geese
  • Both sexes look alike with the male being 10% larger.
  • Canada Geese usually roost on the water and will sleep there taking turns to be on the lookout for predators.
  • When a goose feels threatened it will stretch out its neck and honk loudly. It may also hiss, bite, and slap at the perceived threat with its wings.
  • Males are very aggressive towards anything or anyone that they perceive to be a threat to its nest.  You should always be cautious around geese in the spring as they have been know to attack humans trying to defend its territory.
  • Once every year during warm weather around breeding time a goose will molt its feathers.  It will be unable to fly for about 6 weeks where it stays close to water to keep predators at bay.
  • Canada Geese fly in a V pattern taking turns in the top spot while in flight.


Ways to Deter Canada Geese From Your Property

  • They say to let grasses grow tall around your pond as geese do not like to be around them.  Not everybody is in favor of this as it can be very unsightly.
  • Do not feed them as they will only keep coming back.
  • Put wire up around the pond as this can deter the geese.  My neighbor tried this on his side of the pond and it worked for a few weeks until they soon learned to just walk around the wire.
  • A set of Swan decoys are said to be effective as geese and swans do not get along.
  • There are water sprayers that you can buy that only activate during movement of any animal coming near it.  They do work but the problem is if you yourself forget its there…you get wet.
  • There are sprays that you can use to spray on your grass which are supposed to keep the geese away.  Reviews are not in agreement as they say the sprays do not work.
  • Away With Geese Water Unit is a device that floats on the water and is supposed to disrupt the geese causing them to leave.  This one has mixed reviews that are more positive than negative, but may be worth a try if you are desperate.  However, it is a little expensive at $356.00.





In Conclusion

The breeding season for Canada Geese starts in early March and will go until around May.  The female chooses the spot for the nest which is a shallow bowl made up of sticks, grass, weeds, moss, and down feathers and slightly elevated off of the ground.  She will lay up to eight eggs and be the only one who incubates it.  The male stays nearby guarding the nest.  After approximately 30 days the eggs will hatch and within twenty four hours the nestlings called goslings will be led to water.  They already know how to walk, swim, dive, and feed.  Both adults will raise them.

It is always enjoyable to see the babies as they follow their parents around the water and on land.   You may see quite a few families floating around on the  bigger lakes in the spring too.  Which is always cute to see.   Now when they get older………


How do you feel about Canada Geese?  I would love to hear your thoughts.  Please feel free to make any comments below.


Happy Birding!




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Posted in Ducks, Geese, Shorebirds.


  1. I didn’t know that Canada goose started mating around three years of age. I assume that they’re loyal to their partners, such as penguins.

    And the amount that they poop is huge! I wouldn’t even guess that they were such hardcore poopers. Thank you for the great information. I learned A LOT from your article!

    • Thanks for your comment Tyler!  Yeah, Canada Geese are definite poopers LOL!  The male and female do mate for life unless something happens to one of them then they find another mate.  I don’t mind them as long as they are somewhere else besides my pond or if there is just one or two of them.  

  2. We have a pair of resident Canadian geese on our pond in SW Georgia. They have nested here for several years now. This year “Gertie” was on her nest while “Gus” stood watch. No babies!!! We checked the island on our pond to discover one egg outside the nest broken?? She seems to be nesting again… is this possible?? I thought they only had one brood a year??

    • Karen, yes, Canada Geese have only one brood a year. The female can lay anywhere from 5 to 10 eggs. It takes about 1 day for the female to lay one egg. So more than likely she is laying more eggs in another nest that works better for her. The same thing happened with our “Gladys” and “Guthrie” as I call them. She laid an egg that rolled down the hill and broke from the first nest but then started another nest in another spot and has been there ever since. In another week or two we should see some goslings.

      Let me know how it goes. I would love to hear from you. Thanks for your comments!

  3. At my work place we have a lot of Canada Geese. One is sitting on a nest close to our parking lot. I do not see here leave so I was wondering how does she get food and water? Should we put some food out for her close to the nest?

    • Debbie, no you do not need to feed her. Geese fatten up prior to nesting to prepare for the 28-30 day incubation period. So the mama goose will be fine. Food placed near her would only attract predators anyway and you don’t want that.

      Thanks for your comments. Keep me posted on how they do.

  4. We have a pair of geese on our pond, the female has been setting on her nest for nearly a month. About 2 weeks ago two other geese came in and were promptly fought off by the male and then the female the intruders left. Yesterday two more came in. They were escorted to the nest where they just watched the female on her nest,then they left. We have not seen any babies yet. Is this common behavior? I keep waiting for babies to come out.

    • Carolyn, yes, other geese will come in sometimes and the parents will try to shew them off (mostly the male but if they get too close the female will start hissing at them). Babies should be born very soon if not already. Babies have already hatched in the last few days at our place so be on the look out. It won’t be long if there are eggs on the nest. Keep me posted. Thanks for your comments.

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