Aleutian Canada Goose - Branta canadensis leucopareia canada goose branta canadensis

Aleutian Canada Goose

A success story


Order: Anseriformes

Family: Anatidae

Subfamily: Anserinae

Genus & Species: Branta canadensis leucopareia

APP ishcpltp. uomini di giacca di canadaEARANCE

The Aleutian Canada goose is one of the smallest of the Canada goose subspecies. They are easily recognizable with their grey breast and black neck, back, and front of the head. There is a white ring around the base of the neck and two white cheek patches on the face that do not meet under the throat. Both the males and females have the same markings. The bill is short and the forehead is abrupt.

The Aleutian Canada goose goes by many names, including the Hutchin's goose, white-cheeked goose, lesser Canada goose, Asiatic Canada goose, tundra goose, land goose, and titmouse goose, as well as by several Inuit names, including legch, luch, lug-ach, lagix, and shijukara gan.

HABITAT

The Aleutian Canada goose lives on the Aleutian Island chain of Alaska. They are also found on the Commander and Kuril Islands of Japan. They used to winter from B.C. to Mexico but today winter only in Oregon, Washington, and California. Some of these geese are sometimes spotted in Canada, although they do not live there. They nest on eight islands, including Buldir Island, Chagulak Island and Agattu Island. They migrate between August and December, with the greatest number leaving in September. In the winter many of them can be found near Crescent City and Sacramento Valley.

FOOD

Aleutian Canada geese are omnivores, having a steady diet of arthropods, evergreen shrubs, roots, tubers, leaves, and stems during the breeding season. They also consume crowberries. The goslings are fed insects such as ground beetles. All their water is taken from vegetation. During the non-breeding season they feed on crops such as corn, wheat, barley, oats, and lima beans. Water is taken from low-lying flooded areas.

BREEDING

The mating season is from May to June. Aleutian Canada geese become sexually mature around the age of two or three. The incubation period is 28 days, with an average clutch of 4-6 eggs. Both the males and females guard the nest prior to setting, only the males after. They nest in treeless islands and areas covered with sedge, grass, and ferns with no source of fresh water.

ENEMIES

The main enemy of the Aleutian Canada goose is the Arctic fox, which was introduced to the islands between 1836 and 1930. These fox killed off so many geese they were considered to be extinct for thirty years until a colony was discovered on Buldir Island in 1962. Several of these geese were then moved to four other islands where they successfully bred. In 1990 they were doing so well their status was moved from "endangered" to "threatened" and will soon be moved to "delisted."

Arctic foxes are not the only enemies of the Aleutian Canada goose. Glaucous-winged gulls have been known to eat the eggs while bald eagles prey on the young or flightless. Peregrine falcons, snowy owls, and prairie falcons are also known to hunt them. Parasitic jaegers, related to the gulls, will ruthlessly attack them for their food. Lastly, humans pose a threat as well. Farmers shoot them on sight because they damage crops. Manmade disasters also affect them. At least 11 out of 200 Aleutian Canada geese were oiled after the Humboldt Oil Spill. The last major threat to these geese is their susceptibility to diseases such as avian cholera. From January 8 to March 8 of 1996, 171 died from this disease. Another 54 were wiped out from December 7, 1996 to January 7, 1997.

RELATIVES

The Aleutian Canada goose is one of eleven subspecies of the Canada goose, including the cackling Canada goose, the giant Canada goose, and Taverner's Canada goose. In 1979 a hybrid group of Aleutian Canada geese and Taverner's Canada geese was discovered.

RESOURCES CITED

1. "Saving the Endangered 100", Life Magazine, Sept 1994 ed
2. www.state.ak.us/local/akpagos/FISH.GAME/wildlife/gen info/game/al_goose.htm
3. www.goose.org/species/branta/
4. www.dfg.ca.gov/Ospr/news/ospr22.html
5. www.emtc.nbs.gov/http_data/nwhc.quarter1/1qt96/west. html
6. www.emesc.usgs.gov/http_data/nwhc/quarter1/1qt97tab. html
7. www.fws.gov/r9endspp/i/b08.html
8. www.npwrc.usgs.gov/resource/distr/others.recoprog/ states/species/BRANCANC.HTM
9. www.npwrc.usgs.gov/resource/distr/others.recoprog/ states/species/brancano.htm

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Canada Goose Branta Canadensis And Hazy Twin Towers Skyline Stretched Canvas Print

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Canada Goose Branta Canadensis And Hazy Twin Towers Skyline
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Photo: Benjamin Schelling/Audubon Photography Awards

Canada Goose

Branta canadensis

This big "Honker" is among our best-known waterfowl. In many regions, flights of Canada Geese passing over in V-formation -- northbound in spring, southbound in fall -- are universally recognized as signs of the changing seasons. Once considered a symbol of wilderness, this goose has adapted well to civilization, nesting around park ponds and golf courses; in a few places, it has even become something of a nuisance. Local forms vary greatly in size, and the smallest ones are now regarded as a separate species, Cackling Goose.
Conservation status Species as a whole probably still increasing: responds well to management on wildlife refuges, and has become a common resident of city lakes and parks in many areas. Some distinctive populations are scarce or declining.
Family Ducks and Geese
Habitat Lakes, ponds, bays, marshes, fields. Very diverse, using different habitats in different regions; always nests near water, winters where feeding areas are within commuting distance of water. Nesting habitats include tundra, fresh marshes, salt marshes, lakes in wooded country. Often feeds in open fields, especially in winter. In recent years, also resident in city parks, suburban ponds.
This big "Honker" is among our best-known waterfowl. In many regions, flights of Canada Geese passing over in V-formation -- northbound in spring, southbound in fall -- are universally recognized as signs of the changing seasons. Once considered a symbol of wilderness, this goose has adapted well to civilization, nesting around park ponds and golf courses; in a few places, it has even become something of a nuisance. Local forms vary greatly in size, and the smallest ones are now regarded as a separate species, Cackling Goose.
Photo Gallery
  • adult
  • adult male and female with goslings
  • adult
  • adult
  • adults
  • adults
Feeding Behavior

forages mostly by grazing while walking on land; also feeds in water, submerging head and neck, sometimes up-ending. Feeds in flocks at most seasons.


Eggs

4-7, sometimes 2-11. White, becoming nest-stained. Incubation is by female, 25-28 days; male stands guard nearby. Young: Parents lead young from nest 1-2 days after hatching. Young are tended by both parents, but feed themselves. Age at first flight varies, usually 7-9 weeks, tending to be longer in the largest forms.


Young

Parents lead young from nest 1-2 days after hatching. Young are tended by both parents, but feed themselves. Age at first flight varies, usually 7-9 weeks, tending to be longer in the largest forms.

Diet

almost entirely plant material. Feeds on very wide variety of plants. Eats stems and shoots of grasses, sedges, aquatic plants, also seeds and berries; consumes many cultivated grains (especially on refuges, where crops planted for geese). Occasionally eats some insects, mollusks, crustaceans, sometimes small fish.


Nesting

May mate for life. Male defends territory with displays, including lowering head almost to ground with bill slightly raised and open, hissing; also pumps head up and down while standing. Nest site (chosen by female) is usually on slightly elevated dry ground near water, with good visibility. Much variation; may nest on cliff ledges, on muskrat houses, in trees, on artificial platforms. Nest (built by female) is slight depression with shallow bowl of sticks, grass, weeds, moss, lined with down.

Illustration © David Allen Sibley.
Learn more about these drawings.

Text © Kenn Kaufman, adapted from
Lives of North American Birds

Migration

Historically, each local population followed rigid migratory path, with traditional stopovers and wintering areas. Today many geese in urban areas and on refuges are permanent residents. Other populations have changed routes or wintering areas as habitats have changed.

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Migration

Historically, each local population followed rigid migratory path, with traditional stopovers and wintering areas. Today many geese in urban areas and on refuges are permanent residents. Other populations have changed routes or wintering areas as habitats have changed.

  • All Seasons - Common
  • All Seasons - Uncommon
  • Breeding - Common
  • Breeding - Uncommon
  • Winter - Common
  • Winter - Uncommon
  • Migration - Common
  • Migration - Uncommon
Songs and Calls
Rich musical honking.
  • honking of several geese
  • pair flying overhead
  • excited pair taking flight
  • pair cavorting near nest
  • large flock flying over
  • whirring sounds of goslings
  • adult alarm hisses & barks
Audio © Lang Elliott, Bob McGuire, Kevin Colver, Martyn Stewart and others.
Learn more about this sound collection.