Canada Goose

Author:  Coen del Valle

Common Name: Canada Goose

Scientific Name: Branta canadensis

Size Range: 76-110cm

Identifying Features

The Canada Goose is a large waterfowl most recognizable for its long, black neck and white cheeks and chinstrap. Due to its dependence on water, it has webbed feet to aid its swimming. It’s head and neck are primarily black, they have a tan breast and a brown back. They also have wide flat bills used for grooming and grazing.


Canada geese are migratory birds with most living in the southern states during the winter and moving to Northern Canada to breed during the summer. There is also a portion of their population which does not migrate; these geese stay in Coastal B.C., Northern U.S.A., and Northern Mexico year-round. Canada Geese prefer to inhabit large, open, grassy areas, with bodies of water nearby (within 5 acres).  These features are often found on golf courses which is why Canada Geese often are found there.


Branta canadensis is a grazing species. They prefer grasses, sedges, grains, berries, seeds and roots. They have also adapted to enjoy farm-grown crops such as corn, winter-wheat, millet, oats, soybeans, green barley, rye, alfalfa, clover, and sorghum. They also eat white and yellow water lilies, pondweed, and milfoil. To aid their digestion they ingest gravel. This gravel remains in the gizzard and helps them to break down their food.


Due to the large size of the Canada Goose it has very few predators. However there are a few animals that will prey on goslings and eggs such as red foxes, common snapping turtles, raccoons, and Virginia opossums. Another common predator is the human with approximately 500,000 hunted and killed each year.

Life Cycle

Branta canadensis can live up to 25 years. Within this time each goose will find a mate and stay with it for the rest of their lives (unless separated or one dies). The female goose will choose its mate based on how well the potential mate can protect her. Canada geese start mating at around 3 years old. They reproduce in spring and lay a clutch of 4 to 8 eggs. The female geese build the nest and incubate the eggs while the males defend the nest. The incubation period lasts around 23-30 days. The newborn Canada geese, called goslings, are small, with bright yellow and brown markings.

Human Interaction

The Canada goose population is on the rise due to the way we are modifying our wild environments. We have large farms that geese will eat off of, and an expansion of large grassy areas such as golf courses. These changes in the wild landscape make for great breeding grounds and feeding grounds for the geese. In an effort to control Canada Geese populations many programs are set up to frighten the birds away or where volunteers search out nests and shake the geese eggs in order to reduce the numbers of goslings hatching.

Photos by Patrick Dann

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The Black Oystercatcher

By Leah Brett

Common name: Black Oystercatcher

Scientific name: Haematopus bachmani

Size range: 35cm to 43 cm

Identifying features

The Black Oystercatcher is an all black shorebird. What stands out in this bird is the bright red long bill and the yellow ring around the eye. The size of these birds resembles a common crow except for the bare short pinkish yellow legs.


Black Oystercatchers can be found along the rocky shoreline of the Pacific coast as far south as California and north to Alaska. Though they can be seen as individuals, they are often found in small groups poking their beaks among the rocks and seaweed looking for small prey with other shorebirds such as Gulls and Sandpipers.


The main diet of Oystercatchers includes mussels and limpets. These shellfish seem to be in abundance on the West Coast though other kinds of easy prey such as small crabs, barnacles or sea worms in tidal pools or among seaweed is common as well. They use their beak for stabbing the abductor muscle that holds the shell open and pull out the soft tissue with the tip of its sharp bill.


Because of their small size Black Oystercatchers are easy prey to Eagles, Gulls, Minks, Otters, Ravens, Weasels, Wolverines and Bears. The only defence they have is when they are alarmed, they take flight with a loud piercing whistle.

Life Cycle

Black Oystercatchers live approximately 15 years. They nest on non-forested islands with shelled or gravel beaches usually the same place every year. The nest is made out of a few shells or rock fragments in a small depression just above the high tide line. The female lays 2 to 3 eggs at a time once a year in spring. Incubation is 24 to 29 days. The chicks are downy with “salt and pepper” specks for the first 4 weeks until the adult feathers grow in.

Photos by D. Young

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