Canada Goose - Branta canadensis
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.
For a comprehensive review of the conservation status, habitat use, and ecology of this and other Montana bird species, please see Marks et al. 2016, Birds of Montana.
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.
Western Hemisphere Range
Observations in Montana Natural Heritage Program Database
Number of Observations:
(Click on the following maps and charts to see full sized version)
Map Help and Descriptions
SUMMER (Feb 16 - Dec 14)
Direct Evidence of Breeding
Indirect Evidence of Breeding
No Evidence of Breeding
WINTER (Dec 15 - Feb 15)
Not Regularly Observed
(Observations spanning multiple months or years are excluded from time charts)
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).
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 (common or occasional) of each of the 82 ecological systems mapped in Montana for
vertebrate animal species that regularly breed, overwinter, or migrate through the state by:
- 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 2012, Adams 2003, and Werner et al. 2004);
- Evaluating structural characteristics and distribution of each ecological system relative to the species' range and habitat requirements;
- Examining the observation records for each species in the state-wide point observation database associated with each ecological system;
- 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 listed as associated with 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 listed as 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.
Common versus occasional association with an ecological system was assigned based on the degree to which the structural characteristics of an ecological system matched the preferred structural habitat characteristics for each species as represented in scientific 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 assignment of common versus occasional association.
If you have any questions or comments on species associations with ecological systems, please contact the Montana Natural Heritage Program's Senior Zoologist.
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: mtnhp.org/requests
) 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.
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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.
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.
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.
- Literature Cited AboveLegend: View Online Publication
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- Additional ReferencesLegend: View Online Publication
Do you know of a citation we're missing?
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- Additional Sources of Information Related to "Birds"