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Canada Goose, Mark Habdas
Photo © Mark Habdas

Photo: Mark Habdas
Breeding evidence - Canada Goose
Breeding evidence
Probability of observation - Canada Goose
Probability of observation
Elevation plot - Canada Goose
Elevation plot

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Canada Goose
Branta canadensis
Landscape associations:

Click on plot to view table of mean abundance
Elevation range:
0 - 2192 m
Conserv. status:
BCRISC: Red (occidentalis subspecies)
Global importance
of B.C. population:
Number of squares
ConfirmedProbablePossiblePoint counts
676 198 425 387
Long-term BBS trends
RegionYearsTrend (conf. interv.) Reliab.
Brit. Col.1970 - 2012 8.76 (5.64 - 14.0)Low
Canada1970 - 2012 10.2 (8.25 - 12.3)Medium

Mean abundance by region

Bird Conservation Regions [plot]
NW Interior ForestBoreal Taiga PlainsGreat BasinNorthern RockiesN. Pacific Rainforest
0.110.22 0.630.39 0.71
Ecoprovinces [plot]
N. Boreal Mountains Taiga Plains Boreal Plains Georgia Depression Sub-Boreal Interior
0.110.04 0.250.84 0.2
S. Interior Mountains Central Interior Southern Interior S. Alaska Mountains Coast & Mountains
0.450.46 0.63  0.43

Mean abundance by habitat [plot]

Boreal Altai Fescue AlpineBoreal White and Black SpruceBunchgrassCoastal Douglas-fir
Coastal Mountain-heather AlpineCoastal Western HemlockEngelmann Spruce -- Subalpine FirInterior Cedar -- Hemlock
Interior Douglas-firInterior Mountain-heather AlpineMontane SpruceMountain Hemlock
0.66 0.220.14
Ponderosa PineSpruce -- Willow -- BirchSub-Boreal Pine -- SpruceSub-Boreal Spruce

Characteristics and Range The Canada Goose is a familiar and widespread goose with a black head and neck, white cheek patches, light tan to cream breast, and brown back. It breeds as isolated pairs or in localized aggregations over an extremely wide range of habitats across North America from arctic tundra south through northern and temperate forests and grasslands to about 35°N, and in western Greenland. It winters from southeast Alaska and southern Canada south to northern Mexico and the West Indies. It is introduced and established in many other parts of the world (Mowbray et al. 2002).

Three subspecies of Canada Goose breed in British Columbia and another migrates through the province (Mowbray et al. 2002). The Western Canada Goose (B. c. moffitti) breeds in grasslands and parklands in the British Columbia interior and winters south to California and northern Mexico. The Vancouver Canada Goose (B. c. fulva) is a coastal resident from southwest Alaska to northern Vancouver Island (Dawe and Stewart 2010). The Lesser Canada Goose (B. c. parvipes) breeds in northern British Columbia, and the Dusky Canada Goose (B. c. occidentalis) migrates through the province.

Distribution, Abundance, and Habitat The Canada Goose is a widespread, lower elevation nester across the southern two-thirds of British Columbia. During the 1940s, it was mainly a migrant and summer visitor; however, over the past 40+ years, large resident populations have established locally (Campbell et al. 1990; Dawe and Stewart 2010). The majority of the resident population is concentrated in urban and suburban areas of southern British Columbia. These resident populations are from introductions of mixed subspecies and are multi-race hybrids (Campbell et al. 1990; Dawe and Stewart 2010).

The most extensive areas of high Probability of Observation are in the Central Interior and Georgia Depression ecoprovinces, but the maximum Pobs values are in coastal and valley bottom areas of the Coast and Mountains Ecoprovince. Pobs values are generally lower in the northern ecoprovinces, perhaps because of the reduced influence of introduced populations. Abundance is higher below 500 m compared to higher elevations but point counts are not the best technique for assessing abundance of waterfowl. Canada Goose populations in coastal and interior British Columbia have more than doubled since 1970 (NABCI-Canada 2012).

The Canada Goose is one of the most adaptable of waterfowl and nests in a wide variety of habitats, from forest to open grasslands, and rugged terrain to flat plains, as long as there is permanent water nearby. It often nests in large raptor (eagle and osprey) nests, on other natural platforms, and on man-made structures.

Conservation and Recommendations Many re-established and introduced populations have lost their migratory habit and become year-round residents (Mowbray et al. 2002), causing nuisance problems in agricultural and suburban areas and conflict with native species and habitats. Significant, negative changes to marsh vegetation have been documented on Vancouver Island (Dawe et al. 2011; Dawe et al. 2015). Programs designed to manage existing populations and limit further population growth and range expansion are needed.

Little is known of the distribution and abundance of the Vancouver Canada Goose and potential interactions with the expanding populations of the resident Canada Goose. Studies are needed to assess the status of this subspecies.

Art Martell

Recommended citation: Martell, A. 2015. Canada Goose in Davidson, P.J.A., R.J. Cannings, A.R. Couturier, D. Lepage, and C.M. Di Corrado (eds.). The Atlas of the Breeding Birds of British Columbia, 2008-2012. Bird Studies Canada. Delta, B.C. [14 Jul 2024]

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