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Canada Goose - Branta canadensis

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Global Rank: G5
State Rank: S5B

Agency Status
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BLM:
FWP Conservation Tier: 3
PIF:

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Copyright by Borror Laboratory of Bioacoustics, Department of Evolution, Ecology, and Organismal Biology, Ohio State University, Columbus, OH, all rights reserved.
 
General Description
Individuals vary in size geographically with the smallest individuals in the north; average length is 64 to 117 cm. Individuals have a black head and a neck marked with a broad white chin strap extending from ear to ear, plain large dark wings, and a black tail with a U-shaped white band on the rump.

Diagnostic Characteristics
The Canada Goose differs from the Brant (Branta bernicla) in having a broad white chin strap rather than a small whitish patch on either side of the neck. It differs from the Barnacle Goose (Branta leucopsis) by the lack of a mostly white face and by having plain dark wings instead of blue-gray upperparts barred with black.

General Distribution
Montana Range



Western Hemisphere Range

 


Summary of Observations Submitted for Montana
Number of Observations: 8647

(Click on the following maps and charts to see full sized version) Map Help and Descriptions
Relative Density

Recency

Breeding
(direct evidence "B")


Breeding
(indirect evidence "b")


No evidence of Breeding
(transient "t")


Overwintering
(regular observations "W")


Overwintering
(at least one obs. "w")



 

(Records associated with a range of dates are excluded from time charts)



Migration
In the Bozeman area, migration occurs from February 20 to April 15 and from October 15 to January 1, with peaks on March 15 and November 20 statewide (Skaar 1969).

Habitat
On the lower Yellowstone River, broods are reared on island grasslands and meadows along the river. Dense brush is used when not feeding. In north-central Montana, Canada Geese nested on islands 76%, in sagebrush 6%, in meadows 18%, and on reservoirs of 3.7 to 33.3 acres (McCarthy 1973).

Ecological Systems Associated with this Species
  • Details on Creation and Suggested Uses and Limitations
    How Associations Were Made
    We associated the use and habitat quality (high, medium, or low) of each of the 82 ecological systems mapped in Montana for vertebrate animal species that regularly breed, overwinter, or migrate through the state by:
    1. Using personal observations and reviewing literature that summarize the breeding, overwintering, or migratory habitat requirements of each species (Dobkin 1992, Hart et al. 1998, Hutto and Young 1999, Maxell 2000, Foresman 2001, Adams 2003, and Werner et al. 2004);
    2. Evaluating structural characteristics and distribution of each ecological system relative to the species’ range and habitat requirements;
    3. Examining the observation records for each species in the state-wide point database associated with each ecological system;
    4. Calculating the percentage of observations associated with each ecological system relative to the percent of Montana covered by each ecological system to get a measure of “observations versus availability of habitat”.
    Species that breed in Montana were only evaluated for breeding habitat use, species that only overwinter in Montana were only evaluated for overwintering habitat use, and species that only migrate through Montana were only evaluated for migratory habitat use.  In general, species were associated as using an ecological system if structural characteristics of used habitat documented in the literature were present in the ecological system or large numbers of point observations were associated with the ecological system.  However, species were not associated with an ecological system if there was no support in the literature for use of structural characteristics in an ecological system, even if point observations were associated with that system.  High, medium, and low habitat quality was assigned based on the degree to which the structural characteristics of an ecological system matched the preferred structural habitat characteristics for each species in the literature.  The percentage of observations associated with each ecological system relative to the percent of Montana covered by each ecological system was also used to guide assignments of habitat quality.  If you have any questions or comments on species associations with ecological systems, please contact Bryce Maxell at bmaxell@mt.gov or (406) 444-3655.

    Suggested Uses and Limitations
    Species associations with ecological systems should be used to generate potential lists of species that may occupy broader landscapes for the purposes of landscape-level planning.  These potential lists of species should not be used in place of documented occurrences of species (this information can be requested at: http://mtnhp.org/requests/default.asp) or systematic surveys for species and evaluations of habitat at a local site level by trained biologists.  Users of this information should be aware that the land cover data used to generate species associations is based on imagery from the late 1990s and early 2000s and was only intended to be used at broader landscape scales.  Land cover mapping accuracy is particularly problematic when the systems occur as small patches or where the land cover types have been altered over the past decade.  Thus, particular caution should be used when using the associations in assessments of smaller areas (e.g., evaluations of public land survey sections).  Finally, although a species may be associated with a particular ecological system within its known geographic range, portions of that ecological system may occur outside of the species’ known geographic range.

    Literature Cited
    • Adams, R.A.  2003.  Bats of the Rocky Mountain West; natural history, ecology, and conservation.  Boulder, CO: University Press of Colorado.  289 p.
    • Dobkin, D. S.  1992.  Neotropical migrant land birds in the Northern Rockies and Great Plains. USDA Forest Service, Northern Region. Publication No. R1-93-34.  Missoula, MT.
    • Foresman, K.R.  2001.  The wild mammals of Montana.  Special Publication No. 12.  Lawrence, KS: The American Society of Mammalogists.  278 p.
    • Hart, M.M., W.A. Williams, P.C. Thornton, K.P. McLaughlin, C.M. Tobalske, B.A. Maxell, D.P. Hendricks, C.R. Peterson, and R.L. Redmond. 1998.  Montana atlas of terrestrial vertebrates.  Montana Cooperative Wildlife Research Unit, University of Montana, Missoula, MT.  1302 p.
    • Hutto, R.L. and J.S. Young.  1999.  Habitat relationships of landbirds in the Northern Region, USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station RMRS-GTR-32.  72 p.
    • Maxell, B.A.  2000.  Management of Montana’s amphibians: a review of factors that may present a risk to population viability and accounts on the identification, distribution, taxonomy, habitat use, natural history, and the status and conservation of individual species.  Report to U.S. Forest Service Region 1.  Missoula, MT: Wildlife Biology Program, University of Montana.  161 p.
    • Werner, J.K., B.A. Maxell, P. Hendricks, and D. Flath.  2004.  Amphibians and reptiles of Montana.  Missoula, MT: Mountain Press Publishing Company. 262 p.

Food Habits
On the lower Yellowstone River, birds used winter wheat fields in early fall, corn fields in mid-fall, and a variety of fields and crops in late fall.

Ecology
Gosling mortality (to flight stage) was 20 to 25% on Flathead Lake, less than 10% on Flathead River, and 0% at Ninepipe. At Freezeout Lake, they preferred to nest on islands more than 200 feet from shore and in more than 10 feet of water.

Reproductive Characteristics
In the Flathead Valley, eggs are laid from March 10 to April 25; hatching occurs from April 15 to May 25. Clutch size averages 5.35 (range 2 to 10). The average number of hatchlings was 3.53 in 1953 and 2.22 in 1954. Nesting success was 82.5% in 1953 and 60.3% in 1954.

References
  • Additional ReferencesLegend:   View WorldCat Record   View Online Publication
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    • American Ornithologists' Union. 1998. Check-list of North American birds. 7th edition. American Ornithologists' Union, Washington, D.C. 829 pp.
    • Ankney, C.D. 1996. An embarrassment of riches: too many geese. J. Wildl. Manage. 60(2): 217-223.
    • Atwater, M. G. 1958. A two-year study of renesting in Canada geese (BRANTA CANADENSIS) in Phillips County, Montana. M.S. thesis. Montana State University, Bozeman. 23 pp.
    • Atwater, M. G. 1959. A study of renesting in Canada Geese in Montana. The Journal of Wildlife Management 23(1):91-97.
    • Ball, I. J. 1981. Breeding biology and management of Canada geese in the Flathead Valley. Project report to the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes and Bureau of Indian Affairs. Montana Coop. WildI. Res. Unit, Missoula. 12 pp.
    • Ball, I. J. 1983. Management plan for Canada geese on tribal lands in the Flathead Valley. Report to the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes. Montana Coop. WildI. Res: Unit, Missoula. 9 pp.
    • Ball, I.J., E.L. Bowhay, and C.F. Yocom. 1981. Ecology and management of the western Canada Goose. Washington Dept. of Game Biological Bulletin No. 17; 67 pp.
    • Barraclough, M. E. 1954. Biology of Canada Geese (BRANTA CANDENSIS MOFFITTI) in the Flathead Valley of Montana. M.S. thesis. University of Montana, Missoula. 91 pp.
    • Camp Dresser & McKee, Inc., 1990, Stillwater Chromite Project Baseline Data Report: Hydrology and Wildlife Monitoring, Hydrology - November 1988 through November 1989, Wildlife - November 1988 through February 1990. June 30, 1990
    • Carlsen, T. L., R. L. Eng, D. A. Childress, and J. T. Herbert. 1990. Response by a Canada goose population to a high density of man-made nesting islands. Trans. IUGB Congress, Trondheim, Norway. 19(2):477-482.
    • Carlsen, Tom, and Rick Northrup, 1992, Canyon Ferry Wildlife Management Area Final Draft Management Plan. March 1992.
    • Casey, D. and M. Wood 1984. Effects of water levels on productivity of Canada Geese in the northern Flathead Valley. Montana Fish Wildl. and Parks Annual Report, Bonneville Power Administration Project, No. 33-498. 43 pp.
    • Casey, D., M. Wood, and J. Ball. 1987. Effects of water levels on the productivity of Canada geese in the northern Flathead Valley, Bonneville Power Administration, Portland OR.
    • Childress, D. A. 1971. Canada goose production and water level relationships on the Madison River, Montana. M.S. thesis. Montana State University, Bozeman. 35 pp.
    • Claar, J., I. J. Ball, D. Mackey, and S. Gregory. 1984. Canada goose nesting and brood habitat use related to water level fluctuations of Flathead River. P. 63 In A. Dood, comp., Agriculture and Wildlife. Proc. Mont. Chapt., The Wildt. Soc., Butte. 85 pp.
    • Craighead, J., and F. Craighead. 1957. Bright dyes reveal secrets of Canada geese. National Geographic, pp. 817-832.
    • Craighead, J.J. 1961. Evaluating the use of aerial nesting platforms by Canada geese. J. Wildl. Manage. 25:363-372.
    • Craighead, J.J. 1964. Breeding age of Canada geese. J. Wildl. Manage. 28:57-64.
    • Craighead, J.J., and D.S. Stockstad. 1956. Measuring hunting pressure on Canada geese in the Flathead Valley. Trans. N. Am. Wildl. Conf. 21:210-238.
    • Decker Coal Co., 1981, Wildlife survey. July 7, 1981. In North Decker 5-Year Permit Application. Vol. III. Rule 26.4.304(12-14).
    • Decker Coal Company., 1992, Decker Coal Company East Pit Permit. Vol. 7. Section 9 - Wildlife. Section 10 - AVF and Prime Farmland. July 1992.
    • ECON, Inc. (Ecological Consulting Service), Helena, MT., 1975, Colstrip 10 x 20 Area wildlife and wildlife habitat annual monitoring report, 1975. Proj. 71-23-A. December 31, 1975.
    • ECON, Inc. (Ecological Consulting Service), Helena, MT., 1976, Colstrip 10 x 20 Area wildlife and wildlife habitat annual monitoring report, 1976. Proj. 135-85-A. December 31, 1976.
    • ECON, Inc. (Ecological Consulting Service), Helena, MT., 1977, Colstrip 10 x 20 Area wildlife and wildlife habitat annual monitoring report, 1977. Proj. 164-85-A. December 31, 1977.
    • ECON, Inc. (Ecological Consulting Service), Helena, MT., 1979, Annual wildllife report of the Colstrip Area for 1978. Proj. 195-85-A. April 6, 1979.
    • ECON, Inc. (Ecological Consulting Service), Helena, MT., 1979, Area B four-section wildlife report. August 3, 1979.
    • Ehrlich, P., D. Dobkin, and D. Wheye. 1988. The birder’s handbook: a field guide to the natural history of North American birds. Simon and Schuster Inc. New York. 785 pp.
    • Farmer, Pat, and Dean Culwell, Westech, Inc. [Western Technology and Engineering], Helena, MT., 1981, Terrestrial wildlife reconnaissance. March 1981.
    • Farmer, Patrick J., Western Technology & Eng., Inc., Helena, MT., 1996, Bald eagle nesting survey in the vicinity of the proposed McDonald Project. June 1996.
    • Flath, D. L. 1970. Reproductive success of Canada geese in the Bitterroot Valley, Montana. M.S. thesis. University of Montana, Missoula. 61 pp.
    • Flath, D. L. 1972. Canada goose-osprey interactions. Auk 89:446-447.
    • Geis, M.S. 1956. Productivity of Canada Geese in the Flathead Valley, Montana. J. Wildl. Manage. 20:409-419
    • Gregory, S. K., and D. L. Mackey. 1984. Impacts of water level on breeding Canada geese and the methodology for mitigation and enhancement in the Flathead drainage. Annual Report 1983. U.S. Department of Energy, DOE-BP-203. 98 pp.
    • Gregory, S. K., D. L. Mackey, J. J. Claar, and I. J. Ball. 1984. Impacts of water levels on breeding Canada geese and the methodology for mitigation and enhancement in the Flathead drainage. 1983 Annual Report, DOE/BP-10062-2, Bonneville Power Admin., Portland, Oregon. 73 pp.
    • Gregory, S. K., W. C. Matthews, D. L. Mackey, I. J. Ball and J. J. Carr. 1986. Impacts of water levels on breeding Canada geese and the methodology for mitigation and enhancement in the Flathead drainage. Pp 304-305 in: Issues and Technology in the Management of Impacted Western Wildlife. Thorne Ecological Institute, Boulder, CO.
    • Hamilton, A. 1978. Spring, summer and fall use of stockponds by Canada geese in southeastern Montana. State of Montana Project No. W-120-R-8,9. 64 pp.
    • Hinz, T. 1981. The ecology of Canada geese on the lower Yellowstone River, Montana. Pp. 62-66 in Management of riparian ecosystems. Proc., Montana Chapter, The Wildlife Society, Great Falls. 91 pp.
    • Hinz, T. C. 1974. Seasonal activity, numbers, and distribution of Canada geese (BRANTA CANADENSIS) in the lower Yellowstone Valley, Montana. M.S. thesis. Montana State University, Bozeman. 88 pp.
    • Hook, D. L. 1973. Production and habitat use by Canada geese at Freezeout Lake, MT. M.S. thesis. Montana State University, Bozeman. 53 pp.; State of MT, Proj. No. W-120-R-3.
    • Johnsgard, P. A. 1992. Birds of the Rocky Mountains with particular reference to national parks in the northern Rocky Mountain region. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press. xi + 504 pp.
    • Johnsgard, P.A. 1975. Waterfowl of North America. Indiana University Press, Bloomington.
    • Krohn, W.B. and E.G. Bizeau. 1980. The Rocky Mountain population of the western Canada goose: its distribution, habitats, and management. USFWS Spec. Sci. Rep. Wildl. 229:1-93.
    • Lambing, John H., et al., 1994, Physical, chemical, and biological data for detailed study of the Sun River Irrigation Project, Freezout Lake Wildlife Management Area, and Benton Lake National Wildlife Refuge, west-central Montana, 1990-92, with selected data for 1987-89. May 1994. Open-file report 94-120.
    • Land & Water Consulting, Inc., Missoula, MT., 2002, Montana Dept. of Transportation Wetland Mitigation Monitoring Report, Year 2001: Browns Gulch, Rocker, Montana. Proj. No. 130091.012. July 2002. In 2001 Wetland Mitigation Monitoring Reports, Vol. I.
    • Land & Water Consulting, Inc., Missoula, MT., 2002, Montana Dept. of Transportation Wetland Mitigation Monitoring Report, Year 2002: Batavia, Kalispell, Montana. Proj. No. 130091.006. February 2003. In 2002 Wetland Mitigation Monitoring Reports, Vol. I.
    • Lenard, S., J. Carlson, J. Ellis, C. Jones, and C. Tilly. 2003. P. D. Skaar's Montana Bird Distribution, 6th Edition. Montana Audubon: Helena, MT, 144 pp.
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    • Mackey, D. L., W. C. Matthews, Jr., and S. K. Gregory. 1985. Impacts of water levels on breeding Canada geese and methodology for mitigation and enhancement in the Flathead drainage, Montana. Annual report 1984. U.S. Department of Energy, DOE/BP-l0062. 131 pp.
    • Mackey, Dennis L., et al. 1987. Impacts of water levels on breeding Canada geese and methods for mitigation and management in the southern Flathead Valley, Montana. BPA, Division of Fish and Wildlife, Portland, OR. 162 pp.
    • McCarthy, J. J. 1973. Response of nesting Canada geese (BRANTA CANADENSIS) to islands in stockdams in northcentral Montana. M.S. thesis. Montana State University, Bozeman. 36 pp.
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    • Palmer, R. S. 1962. Handbook of North American birds. Volume 1. Loons through flamingos. Yale University Press, New Haven. 567 pp.
    • Sovey, S. 1986. Nesting and brooding ecology of Canada geese on an irrigation in northwestern Montana. M.S. thesis, University of Montana, Missoula.
    • Stockstad, D. S. 1963. Canada goose investigation. Montana Fish and Game Dept. P-R Job Compl. Rep., Proj. W-71-R.
    • Thunderbird Wildlife Consulting, Inc., Gillette, WY., 2003, 2002 wildlife monitoring report: Big Sky Mine. February 2003.
    • U.S. Forest Service. 1991. Forest and rangeland birds of the United States: Natural history and habitat use. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service Agricultural Handbook 688. 625 pages.
    • Waage, Bruce C., 1988, Western Energy Company Rosebud Mine, Colstrip, Montana: Annual Wildlife Monitoring Report, 1988 Field Season. December 1988.
    • Waage, Bruce C., 1989, Western Energy Company Rosebud Mine, Colstrip, Montana: Annual Wildlife Monitoring Report, 1989 Field Season. December 1989.
    • Waage, Bruce C., 1991, Western Energy Company Rosebud Mine, Colstrip, Montana: Annual Wildlife Monitoring Report, 1990 Field Season. September 1991.
    • Waage, Bruce C., 1992, Western Energy Company Rosebud Mine, Colstrip, Montana: Annual Wildlife Monitoring Report, 1991 Field Season. December 1992.
    • Walcheck, Kenneth C., 1999, The Lewis & Clark Expedition: Montana's first bird inventory through the eyes of Lewis and Clark.
    • Western Energy Co., Colstrip, MT., 1980, Western Energy Company Rosebud Mine, Colstrip, Montana: Annual Wildlife Report, 1980.
    • Western Energy Co., Colstrip, MT., 1981, Western Energy Company Rosebud Mine, Colstrip, Montana: Annual Wildlife Report, 1981.
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    • Witt, D., and L. Williamson. 1956. A production study of Canada geese on Nelson Reservoir, Phillips County, Montana. Montana Fish and Game Dept. P-R Quarterly Rep., July-September: 11-30.
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Citation for data on this website:
Canada Goose — Branta canadensis.  Montana Field Guide.  Montana Natural Heritage Program and Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks.  Retrieved on April 21, 2014, from http://FieldGuide.mt.gov/detail_ABNJB05030.aspx
 
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