Canada goose

Branta canadensis

Canada goose in water

Have you seen this animal? Report it now!

Photos and accurate descriptions of where and when the animal(s) was sighted are critical when making a report. Detailed information allows the Victorian government to make a timely and positive identification. All reports are responded to as a priority and may result in trapping, surveillance and the removal of confirmed Canada goose.

It's important to report Canada goose sightings

The Canada goose is not native to Australia and if given the opportunity could establish and breed in Victoria. Should they become established they have the potential to negatively impact on the environment, agriculture, urban areas and human health. Early detection is critical to preventing their establishment in the wild.

Canada goose are classified as a regulated pest animal under the Victorian Catchment and Land Protection Act 1994.

The Canada goose is not known to occur in the wild in Australia however there have been several reports in the past in New South Wales. The most likely source will be either from captive collections or migrations from New Zealand.

How to identify a Canada goose

Size

The Canada goose is a medium to large waterfowl, 55 to 100cm in length (body and tail) with a wingspan of 122 to 183cm, and weighing between 3 to 6kg.

Colour and distinctive features

They are brown and white and have a distinctive white patch on their cheeks and chin. They have a long black neck and head. The bill, tail, legs and feet are also black. Their underwings are dark.

On their rump is a white V-shaped mark which is visible from above and when the bird is taking off.

Goose's black head with white marking

Habitat

They can occupy a diverse range of habitats which include:

  • semi desert
  • forests
  • coastal areas
  • agricultural land.

They can also live in urban areas where there are extensive lawns and or water bodies including:

  • wetlands
  • mudflats
  • estuaries
  • lakes.

Their nest is usually located on the ground near to water. The nest is a large mass of vegetation lined with down. However, sometimes the goose builds nests off the ground. During breeding 4 to 7 white eggs are laid.

Nest on the ground with 3 eggs inside

Behaviour

Many Canada goose populations are migratory. When in groups they fly in a striking V-formation with neck outstretched. They often honk loudly.

2 geese flying over grassland with wings outstretched

Call

Their voice call is loud and consists of loud honks, barks, cackles with some hissing. They honk as they fly.

Similar looking native birds

The Canada goose does not look similar to any native species. The combination of their long black neck and head, distinctive white facial patch, black legs and feet, and honk are key distinguishing features.

Impact

They are considered a moderate pest to agriculture overseas as they impact on pastures and crops.

  • Environmentally they compete with native waterfowl species for nesting sites and food, as well as potentially spreading parasites and disease.
  • They are an urban nuisance as they foul and trample areas such as gardens, lawns, golf courses and pathways.
  • Their droppings foul waterways and land and can contain harmful bacteria that can pose significant threats to human health.
  • They have caused very serious aeroplane crashes when they fly in flocks over or near airports.

Acknowledgements

(i) Aplaster (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
(ii) Alan D. Wilson, www.naturespicsonline.com [CC BY-SA 2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons
(iii) Mdf (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons

Footnote

1 Department of Agriculture and Food, 2010, National Animal Pest Alert Fact Sheet: Canada Goose

Page last updated: 24 Aug 2021