The rise of the Canada Goose

Not surprisingly, considering its name, the Canada Goose is a common sight throughout North America. Flights of Canada Geese passing over in V-formation – northbound in spring, southbound in autumn – are universally recognised as signs of the changing seasons. There are an estimated 4-5 million Canada Geese in North America.

This handsome bird is also a familiar sight in Europe – but only fairly recently. Just one hundred years ago, the Canada Goose would only have been seen in specialist collections in Europe.

The Canada Goose is believed to have made its first appearance in Europe in the early 17th century. Explorer Samuel de Champlain sent several pairs of geese to France as a present for King Louis XIII. In the late 17th century Canada Geese were introduced to King James II’s waterfowl collection in St. James’s Park in London.

The rise of the Canada Goose #birdoftheweek
Currently my local lake only has a single pair of Canada Geese

During the 20th century further introductions were made in Europe, beginning with Sweden in 1929. Since then they have bred and spread throughout most of Europe and are now a common sight in parks and nature reserves, and on reservoirs, canals and lakes. Indeed, in some areas they are so numerous that they are considered a pest.

Are Canada Geese friends or foes?

How are Canada Geese regarded in your country or region? Here in Belgium, they are generally tolerated. However, a few years ago Belgian nature organisation Natuurpunt gassed 300 Canada Geese. They were causing damage to agricultural crops and were seen to be a threat to native species. In the UK, culls regularly take place, although local opposition frequently prevents them happening.

In the southern hemisphere, Canada Geese were introduced as a game bird into New Zealand in 1905. Here too they bred rapidly and have become a problem in some areas by fouling pastures and damaging crops. In an attempt to reduce numbers, in 2011 the New Zealand government removed the goose’s protection status, allowing anyone to kill the birds.

Canada Goose Bird of the Week
One of my local Canada Geese (Branta canadensis)

What’s the situation where you are? Are Canada Geese friends or foes?

Photos © Denzil Walton

Submitted for I.J.’s Bird of the Week challenge.


  1. In Virginia, we have both migratory and resident Canada Geese
    Supposedly the two groups don’t interact
    Many people consider them pests because they eat grass down to the bare earth that can line ponds and lakes. When we don’t get much rain, goose droppings can carpet nearby sidewalks.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. In Canada, they are our friends. We need to learn to love and live with all of nature, not destroy it. I have rescued many geese in my city from irate drivers who would just as soon run the geese and their families over. Selfishness and restlessness instead of harmony is so destructive.

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  3. In Madison Wisconsin, USA, the geese are a native species. However, they no longer migrate since our winters have warmed. Without migration, more birds survive to breed. We have an overpopulation, without their traditional predators. A big dilemma with plenty of poo covered grass in the parks.

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    • Thanks for commenting Rebecca. With the rise of bird flu, I fear that Canada Geese may be the first targets for culls., especially considering their over-populations in certain regions.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Here on Vancouver Island the population of non-migratory Canada geese has grown since they were introduced as game birds to places where they hadn’t been before. Now they are apparently eating plants in estuaries and depositing poop in parks. There is talk of culls and egg-addling as control measures, but those are localized efforts.

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  5. Thanks for sharing your interesting post Denzil. I am not sure what the state of play here in north west England is regarding geese.
    I certainly remember watching ‘the flight of the wild geese’ when visiting my uncle’s farm in Ireland in my younger days. I seem to remember the geese were white.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I had to look up to see if there are any Canada geese in Australia and according to my research there are some in private collections and a few reports of a couple being seen in the wild. We’re in Victoria at the moment, on Phillip Island and there are many Cape Barron geese, everywhere. They seem very placid and barely move at all when we drive or walk past. They are quite large birds so I’m glad they are so friendly.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. There is a geese breeding area beside my condo on Vancouver Island and there are 100’s of ‘‘em until about now. They are gone until next winter. Most viewers like the wildlife but the Trumpeter Swans are the favourites.

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