At The Game Bird Gazette
Editors' Note: Raising Canada Geese as well as other ducks, geese and swans is an activity that is very popular. There are, in fact, thousands of people who enjoy keeping and breeding Canada Geese and other waterfowl. There a lots of captive bred geese, eggs and goslings offered for sale in the classified advertising section of the Game Bird Gazette magazine. Many other species of waterfowl are also readily available from breeders advertising in the magazine.
Spring is an exciting time for the staff of the Game Bird Gazette magazine, particularly because the sky is alive with the alluring sights and sounds of Canada Geese and a variety of other birds flying overhead or alighting in or around nearby ponds. The migration of Canadian geese begins early in the spring, and even earlier, and first sightings invariably bring mention in the local paper.
Much to our delight, the number of geese stopping to visit in our neighborhood has been increasing. Many of them are wild Canada Geese which are here to feed and rest on their way to traditional nesting areas further north. We are located in the center of the Salt Lake Valley where there is only a small amount of open water and habitat remaining for wild waterfowl. Most of what marsh habitat existed has been drained and replaced with homes, condos or business offices. However, some of these condos, apartment complexes and business parks (such as where our offices are located) have ponds and surrounding habitat that Canada Geese find quite suitable for nesting and raising their families. Because of the favorable habitat, many of the geese are nesting in these places every year instead of continuing northward. Several families of canada geese have actually been spending the entire year here on the grounds of the Spring Run Executive Offices at 900 East and Murray Holladay Road. The Gazette editor, George Allen, took the pictures of the family of Canada Geese at this location which appeared on the cover of the magazine and in several other national publications. Interestingly, the geese outside the Gazette office pay little mind to the hustle and bustle of the busy Van Winkle expressway located just yards away, nor do they seem bothered by numerous office workers who go out to watch them during their lunch break. Those who are watchers or breeders of Canada Geese will know that they are hearty and intelligent game birds that easily adapt to changes that occur in their environment. As a consequence, they have the widest distribution of any of the geese and are, of course, the best known. Males and females are nearly identical in color, both having a white "chin strap" running from one side of the head to the other and body color that is generally grayish-brown. Canadas are impressive in flight with large numbers often traveling in long lines in a V-shape formation. Their noisy honking carries a long distance and often catches the attention and admiration of human folks on the ground far below! The courtship behavior of the canada goose is delightful to watch. The gander approaches the female with its neck fully extended, head low to the ground, bill open, tongue raised, as it utters a hissing sound. He may circle around her and affectionately make contact with his bill. If there is a mutually amorous feeling, the two will simultaneously move their necks in a very intriguing weaving pattern. In nature Canadas normally mate for life unless one partner is killed or otherwise dies at which time another mate may be taken. Breeding occurs on coastal marshes, open prairie, northern tun-dra and a variety of other places. More unusual nest sites include atop beaver or muskrat homes, on rocky ledges, or on platforms placed high up in trees. From 5-6 eggs are usually laid although there may be as many as ten. Male Canada Geese stand guard at the nest sites or in front of their young and defend against any intruder or predator that may come by. A warning is first given by holding the neck and head low and hissing loudly, but should an unwelcome visitor not be dissuaded, the warning quickly gives way to a full scale attack by the ganderwho mayjump or fly directly at the intruder and strike out with its powerful wings. In 1840, the famous painter John James Audubon reported being injured by a wild Canada gander he was observing at a nest. For a while he believed his arm had been broken due to the attack! So whether you are inspecting honker nests on the game farm or in nature, by all means be careful! Canada Geese have been extensively hunted for a very long time. Untold thousands have been killed with lead and steel shot. In addition, much of their favored habitat, particularly in America, has been taken up for human development. As the pioneers moved westward with guns in hand and families to feed during the 1800s, many of the geese moved northward to more private locations in Canada where most of them breed today. However, due to the restoration of millions of acres of wetland habitat, as well as strictly enforced hunting regulations, their future in the U.S. is very bright.
More exciting links for lovers of ducks, geese and swans
Raising Ducks, Geese & Swans
Wood Duck and Mandarin Duck
Gamebird.com Shopping Center (waterfowl books)