About Canada Geese

Canada Goose © Petr Kratochvil, wiki commons
Canada Goose © Petr Kratochvil, wiki commons

This is the only species of goose that breeds in Massachusetts, although more may be spotted outside of the breeding season.


Canada Goose (not  Canadian Goose!) is familiar to most people with its large brown body, black neck, and head with white cheek patches.

There are a number of subspecies, with the main differences being size and proportions, although some populations are paler than others. Varying sizes can be seen in migration, but Massachusetts breeders are among the larger subspecies.

Life Cycle

The female Canada Goose selects the nest site, usually a slightly elevated spot near the water. The nest is a shallow depression with plant material and lined with down. She lays a total of 4-7 eggs—only one a day—and does not begin to incubate full-time until the clutch is complete. 

The male stands guard and may show aggression if the nest is threatened. The goslings hatch after 25-28 days and are born precocial, meaning that they are able to walk, swim, and feed themselves almost immediately after hatching. The young stay with their parents through the first year of life.

Canada Geese that breed in Massachusetts do not typically migrate, instead moving to areas where the water has not frozen.


Canada Geese are almost exclusively herbivorous and feed on grasses, sedges, berries, and grains. Occasionally, they will feed on invertebrates and small fish.

Don’t Feed the Geese

Giving food to waterfowl can create many problems for birds and the environment. Both Mass Audubon and the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (MDFW) discourage it.

Find out why feeding geese is not recommended >