Canada goose
Branta canadensis
ITIS Species Code:   174999         NatureServ Element Code:   ABNJB05030
NatureServe Global Rank: 
NatureServe State (NC) Rank: 
Federal Status: 
NC State Status: 
Southern Blue Ridge:  13 Southern Piedmont:  11 South Atl. Coastal Plain:  10
Land Unit

US Fish & Wildlife Service
US Forest Service
US National Park Service
US Department of Defense
NC State Parks
NC University System
NC Wildlife Res. Com.
NC Forest Service
NC Div. of Coastal Mgmt.
Local Governments
Non-Governmental Org.
Other Public Lands
Private Lands

GAP Status 1-2
All Protected Lands




% of Dist. on
Prot. Lands

9.9 %
45.1 %
7.7 %
9.5 %
7.4 %
0.6 %
12.3 %
1.1 %
0.7 %
3.1 %
3.1 %
0.9 %
< 0.1 %

40.8 %
% of Dist. on
All Lands

0.5 %
2.3 %
0.4 %
0.5 %
0.4 %
< 0.1 %
0.6 %
< 0.1 %
< 0.1 %
< 0.1 %
0.2 %
< 0.1 %
94.9 %

2.1 %
The Canada Goose breeds occasionally or locally across the state, but all breeding birds are thought to be of introduced or feral stock (Fussell 1994, Potter et al. 1980, Simpson 1992) and not of the mid-Atlantic population that ranges from eastern Canada south to South Carolina, regularly wintering in North Carolina (Bellrose 1976); most Canada Geese breed north of 60 degree latitude (Farrand 1983). A non-migratory resident breeding population could be established, such as was accomplished in Tennessee (see Nicholson 1997).

Lives in a diverse range of habitats in the vicinity of water. Found in meadows, parks with lakes or rivers, fresh, brackish (Ehrlich et al. 1988), or salt marshes, fields, ponds, bays, lakes in wooded areas, cities and suburbs near water, agricultural fields, and golf courses (Kaufman 1996),

Nests sites are generally on the ground near water, either on the mainland (Nicholson 1997) or often on a small island (Belrose 1976). Also on cliffs, in trees, on man-made structures such as wooden platforms (Bellrose 1976), or in abandoned osprey or heron nests (Geis 1956), especially if the ground is covered in snow (Ehrlich et al. 1988).


Various habitats near water, from temperate regions to tundra. In migration and winter, coastal and freshwater marshes, lakes, rivers, fields, etc. On Admiralty Island, Alaska, commonly perches in trees. In the eastern U.S., common on lawns adjacent to water in urban-suburban areas.


Breeds in open or forested areas near lakes, ponds, large streams, inland and coastal marshes. The nest is built on the ground or on an elevated place (muskrat house, abandoned heron's nest, rocky cliffs, etc.) (Terres 1980). Usually returns to nesting territory used in previous year.

Occupied Landcover Map Units:
Code NameDescription NC Natural Heritage Program Equivalent
3 Tidal Marsh Fresh and brackish tidal marshes, including cord grass, wild rice, sawgrass and needlerush alliances. Brackish Marsh, Interdune pond, Maritime wet grassland
124 Maritime Scrubs and Tidal Shrublands Coastal shrubs including wax-myrtle, swamp rose, alder, yaupon, and greenbriar. Maritime Shrubs, Salt Shrub
372 Interdune Herbaceous Wetlands Dune swales with permanently flooded to intermittently exposed hydrology. Species composition depends on salinity and can include cut grass, spike-rush, mosquito fern, and hornwort. Interdune Pond, Maritime Wet Grasslands
371 Maritime Grasslands Dune grass community consisting of sea oats and beach grasses. Dune grass, Maritime dry grassland
126 Interdune Wooded Depression Swamp Includes swamps dominated by sweetbay and swampbay or dogwood dominated forests. Maritime Shrub Swamp, Maritime Swamp Forest
380 Coastal Plain Fresh Water Emergent Emergent vegetation in fresh water seepage bogs, ponds and riverbeds of the coastal plain. Includes alliances dominated by sedges, eelgrass, as well as cane found in unforested cane-brakes. Small Depression Pond, Sandhill Seep, Floodplain Pool, Unforested Floodplain Canebrake, Riverscour Prairies, Vernal Pools
173 Coastal Plain Riverbank Shrubs Shrub dominated riverbanks, commonly dominated by willows and/or alders. Sand and Mud Bar
30 Cypress-Gum Floodplain Forests Swamps dominated by black or swamp tupelo with or without Taxodium. Seasonally to semi-permanently flooded hydrology. Cypress-Gum Swamps
78 Pond-Cypress - Gum Swamps, Savannas and Lakeshores Cypress dominated swamps and lakeshores. Can include bays dominated by pond cypress or shorelines of coastal plain lakes with a narrow band of cypress. Non-riverine Swamp Forest, Natural Lakeshores (in part)
238 Piedmont/Mountain Submerged Aquatic Vegetation Seasonally to permanently flooded areas with aquatic vegetation. Waterlily, pondweed, hydrilla smartweed are a few of the species that can occur. Piedmont/Mountain Semipermanent Impoundment (in part)
239 Piedmont/Mountain Emergent Vegetation Emergent vegetation of all wetland hydrologies. Sites would commonly support species such as tussock sedge, rushs, and cattail alliances. Rocky Bar and Shore (in part)
267 Riverbank Shrublands Riverside shrubs with temporarily flooded hydrologies. Found in the both the Mountains and Piedmont. Containing dominants such as smooth alder and a Carolina or black willows. Sand and Mud Bar
269 Floodplain Wet Shrublands Saturated shrublands of the Piedmont, includes buttonbush, swamp-loosestrife, decodon and alders. Piedmont/mountain Semipermanent Impoundment
228 Piedmont Dry-Mesic Oak and Hardwood Forests Primarily oak dominated forests, white oak is often dominant, with co-dominants including . Also represented by sweetgum and tulip poplar dominated forests. Dry Mesic Oak Hickory Forest, Basic Oak Hickory Forest, Dry Oak Hickory Forest
222 Piedmont Dry-Mesic Pine Forests Loblolly dominated forests resulting from succession following clearing. This type occurs on all moisture regimes following disturbance with the exception of the extremely xeric sites. No equivalent
382 Dry Mesic Oak Pine Forests Mixed forests of the coastal plain and piedmont. Includes loblolly pine with white, southern red and/or post oak and loblolly with water oak. On basic sites of the piedmont, eastern red cedar may co-occur with post, black, and blackjack oaks. Dry Mesic Oak Hickory Forest, Xeric Hard Pan Forest, Chestnut Oak Forest, Dry Mesic Oak Hickory Forest, Dry Oak Hickory Forest
180 Agricultural Crop Fields Farm fields used for row crops. No equivalent
205 Agricultural Pasture/Hay and Natural Herbaceous Farm fields used for pasture grass or hay production, as well as old fields dominated by native and exotic grasses. No equivalent
202 Residential Urban Includes vegetation interspersed in residential areas. Includes lawns, mixed species woodlots, and horticultural shrubs. Vegetation accounts for between 20 - 70% of the cover. No equivalent
8 Open water Open water without aquatic vegetation. No equivalent
View Entire Landcover Legend
Additional Spatial Constraints:
Exclude all area outside of known range.
Exclude all land greater than 500 meters from an open water feature.
Exclude all water greater than 500 meters from land.
Exclude salt water habitats.
Fish and Wildlife Service. 1980. Selected vertebrate endangered species of the seacoast of the United States- Aleutian canada goose. FWS/OBS-80/01.34, Slidell.

Craven, S.R. 1981. The Canada goose (BRANTA CANADENSIS)- an annotated bibliography. U.S. Dept. of Interior, FWS. Special Scientific Report No. 231. 66 pp.

Van Wagner, C. E., and A. J. Baker. 1990. Association between mitochondrial DNA and morphological evolution in Canada geese. J. Molecular Evol. 31:373-382.

Aguilera, E., R. L. Knight, and J. L. Cummings. 1991. An evaluation of two hazing methods for urban Canada geese. Wildl. Soc. Bull. 19:32-35.

Banks, R. C., and M. R. Browning. 1995. Comments on the status of revived old names for some North American birds. Auk 112:633-648.

Campbell, B. H., and J. E. Cornely. 1992. Dusky Canada goose:an annotated bibliography. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Serv. Resource Publ. 187. 30 pp.

Simpson MB Jr. 1992. Birds of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Chapel Hill and London: University of North Carolina Press.

Converse, K. A. 1985. A study of resident nuisance geese in Connecticut and New York. Ph.D. dissertation, Univ. of Massachusetts.

Franson, C. 1994. Parathion poisoning of Mississippi kites in Oklahoma. J. Raptor Res. 28:108-109.

Fussell, J.O. III. 1994. A birder’s guide to coastal North Carolina. Chapel Hill and London: The University of North Carolina Press.

Kaufman K. 1996. Lives of North American Birds. Boston, New York: Houghton Mifflin Company.

Nicholson CP. 1997. Atlas of the breeding birds of Tennessee. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press.

Conover, M. R. 1989. Can goose damage to grain fields be prevented through methiocarb-induced aversive conditioning? Wildl. Soc. Bull. 17:172-175.

Oberholser, H.C. 1974. The bird life of Texas. 2 vols. Univ. of Texas Press, Austin.

Kortright, F.H. 1967. The ducks, geese, and swans of North America. The Stackpole Company, Harrisburg, PA, and Wildlife Management Institute, Washington, D.C. 476 pp.

Heinrich, J. W., and S. R. Craven. 1990. Evaluation of three damage abatement techniques for Canada geese. Wildl. Soc. Bull. 18:405-410.

Bellrose, F.C. 1976. Ducks, geese and swans of NorthšAmerica. Stackpole Books, Harrisburg, Pa.

Harrison, C. 1978. A field guide to the nests, eggs and nestlings of North American birds. Collins, Cleveland, Ohio.

Conover, M. R., and G. G. Chasko. 1985. Nuisance Canada goose problems in the eastern United States. Wildl. Soc. Bull. 13:228-233.

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.

Potter, E. F., J. F. Parnell, and R. P. Teulings. 1980. Birds of the Carolinas. Univ. North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill. 408 pp.

Terres, J.K. 1980. The Audubon Society encyclopedia of North American birds. Alfred A. Knopf, New York.

Craven, S. R. 1981. The Canada goose (BRANTA CANADENSIS)- an annotated bibliography. U. S. Fish & Wildl. Serv., Spec.Sci. Rep.-Wildl. No. 231. 66 pp.

American Ornithologists' Union (AOU), Committee on Classification and Nomenclature. 1983. Check-list of North American Birds. Sixth Edition. American Ornithologists' Union, Allen Press, Inc., Lawrence, Kansas.

Farrand, J., editor. 1983. Audubon Society master guide to birding. Alfred A. Knopf, New York. 3 vols., 1244 pp.

Van Wagner, C. E., and A. J. Baker. 1986. Genetic differentiation in populations of Canada geese (BRANTA CANADENSIS). Can. J. Zool. 64:940-947.

Di Silvestro, R. L., editor. 1986. Audubon wildlife report1986. National Audubon Society, New York. 1094 pp. [available from Academic Press, San Diego, CA].

Pratt, H.D., P.L. Bruner, and D.G. Berrett. 1987. A field guide to the birds of Hawaii and the tropical Pacific. Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey. 409 pp. + 45 plates.

Ehrlich, P.R., D.S. Dobkin, and D. Wheye. 1988. The birder's handbook:a field guide to the natural history of North American birds. Simon and Shuster, Inc., New York. xxx + 785 pp.

Root, T. 1988. Atlas of wintering North American birds:An analysis of Christmas Bird Count data. University of Chicago Press. 336 pp.

Reese, K. P., J. A. Kadlec, and L. M. Smith. 1987. Characteristics of islands selected by nesting Canada geese, BRANTA CANADENSIS. Canadian Field-Nat. 101:539-542.

Conover, M. R. 1991. Herbivory by Canada geese:diet selction and effect on lawns. Ecological Applications 1(2):231-236.

Conover, M. R., and G. S. Kania. 1991. Characteristics of feeding sites used by urban-suburban flocks of Canada geese in Connecticut. Wildl. Soc. Bull. 19:36-38.

Cummings, J. L., et al. 1991. Evaluation of dimethyl and methyl anthranilate as a Canada goose repellent on grass. Wildl. Soc. Bull. 19:184-190.

Shields, G. F., and A. C. Wilson. 1987. Subspecies of Canada goose (BRANTA CANADENSIS) have distinct mitochondrial DNAs. Evolution 41:662-666.

Johnson, S.R., and D.R. Herter. 1989. The birds of the Beaufort Sea. BP Exploration (Alaska) Inc., Anchorage, Alaska. 372 pp.

Quinn, T. W., G. F. Shields, and A. C. Wilson. 1991. Affinities of the Hawaiian goose based on two types of mitochondrial DNA data. Auk 108:585-593.

Samuel, M. D., et al. 1991. Fall and winter distribution of Canada geese in the Mississippi flyway. J. Wildl. Manage. 55:449-456.

Tacha, T. C., et al. 1991. Migration patterns of the Mississippi Valley population of Canada geese. J. Wildl. Manage. 55:94-102.

10 March 2005
This data was compiled and/or developed by the North Carolina GAP Analysis Project.

For more information please contact them at:
NC-GAP Analysis Project
Dept. of Zoology, NCSU
Campus Box 7617
Raleigh, NC 27695-7617
(919) 513-2853