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WHAT THE PECK: Canada Goose

(Illustration by Jessie McLaughlin)

There is perhaps no other bird that divides people so much as the Canada goose. We love them for their stately beauty and iconic V-shape flight patterns. We curse them for their large droppings, voracious appetites, and aggressive behaviour to perceived threats. 

As depicted in the 90s family classic Fly Away Home, Canada geese migrate thousands of kilometers every year from Canada to the Southern U.S. and Mexico. Their defining V formation is strategic — each goose flies above the one in front of it, reducing wind resistance and helping the coordination of the flock. Fighter pilots often use this formation for the same reasons.

Canada geese have a whopping 20,000-25,000 feathers. Most of these are small, soft plumage called down, which help insulate them against the cold. Canada geese molt every year, shedding their feathers and grounding them for up to five weeks in the late summer.

These majestic migrants are monogamous, and usually mate for life. Perhaps the most darling of all the goose facts is that they line their nests with down, laying their eggs in a cloud of soft white feathers and straw. Within just one day of hatching, goslings can swim, walk, and even forage their own food.

Don’t be fooled by their cool demeanor — these scrappy waterfowl will not back away from a fight. They will fiercely defend their nesting grounds, flapping, pecking, and hissing at any threat.

Love them or hate them, Canada geese strut their stuff with undeniable star power in the world of well-known birds.


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