My adventures in the woods, streams, rivers, fields, and lakes of Michigan

Canada Goose, Branta canadensis

Note: this post, while published, is a work in progress, as are all posts in this series, My Photo Life List. My goal is to photograph every species of bird that is seen on a regular basis here in Michigan, working from a list compiled by the Michigan chapter of the Audubon Society. This will be a lifelong project, that I began in January of 2013, and as I shoot better photos of this, or any other species, I will update the post for that species with better photos when I can. While this series is not intended to be a field guide per se, my minimum standard for the photos in this series is that one has to be able to make a positive identification of the species in my photos. The information posted here is from either my observations or the Wikipedia, the online free encyclopedia, however, I have personally shot all the photos appearing in this series.

Canada Goose, Branta canadensis, another very common waterfowl, since I just did mallards, I thought that I may as well knock this one out too.

This species is native to North America. It breeds in Canada and the northern United States in a variety of habitats. Its nest is usually located in an elevated area near water such as streams, lakes, ponds and sometimes on a beaver lodge. Its eggs are laid in a shallow depression lined with plant material and down.

By the early 20th century, over-hunting and loss of habitat in the late 19th century and early 20th century had resulted in a serious decline in the numbers of this bird in its native range. The Giant Canada Goose subspecies was believed to be extinct in the 1950’s until, in 1962, a small flock was discovered wintering in Rochester, Minnesota, by Harold Hanson of the Illinois Natural History Survey. With improved game laws and habitat recreation and preservation programs, their populations have recovered in most of their range, although some local populations, especially of the subspecies occidentalis, may still be declining.

In recent years, Canada Goose populations in some areas have grown substantially, so much so that many consider them pests for their droppings, bacteria in their droppings, noise, and confrontational behavior. This problem is partially due to the removal of natural predators and an abundance of safe, man-made bodies of water near food sources, such as those found on golf courses, in public parks and beaches, and in planned communities. Due in part to the interbreeding of various migratory subspecies with the introduced non-migratory Giant subspecies, Canada Geese are frequently a year-around feature of such urban environments.

To me, the Canada geese mark the changing of the seasons. Seeing and hearing large flocks in the familiar “V” formations winging their way south in the fall, then north again to signal that spring is near. They also represent the comeback that wildlife can make once we learn not to attempt to kill them all off, although some, who see them as a nuisance, may feel differently. They are also a symbol of the north, less developed and more wild areas of Michigan, for when I was growing up, seeing one near where I lived was a rarity, other than during their migration.

On to the photos, and since it’s fairly easy to get a shot like this of one on the ground….

Canada goose

Canada goose

…or like this…

Canada geese

Canada geese

…most of the rest of the photos will be of them in flight. But first, a shot of one doing one of the things geese do best, honking.

Canada geese

Canada geese

Well, maybe two honkers honking.

Canada geese

Canada geese

Now for the flight photos.

Canada geese coming in for a landing

Canada geese coming in for a landing

Canada geese coming in for a landing

Canada geese coming in for a landing

Canada geese coming in for a landing

Canada geese coming in for a landing

Canada geese coming in for a landing

Canada geese coming in for a landing

Canada geese coming in for a landing

Canada geese coming in for a landing

Canada goose in flight

Canada goose in flight

Canada goose coming in for a landing

Canada goose coming in for a landing

Canada goose coming in for a landing

Canada goose coming in for a landing

Canada goose in flight

Canada goose in flight

Canada goose in flight

Canada goose in flight

Canada geese coming in for a landing

Canada geese coming in for a landing

Canada geese coming in for a landing

Canada geese coming in for a landing

Canada geese coming in for a landing

Canada geese coming in for a landing

Canada goose coming in for a landing

Canada goose coming in for a landing

Canada goose coming in for a landing

Canada goose coming in for a landing

Canada goose in flight

Canada goose in flight

Canada geese avoiding a collision

Canada geese avoiding a collision

Canada goose in flight

Canada goose in flight

Canada geese coming in for a landing

Canada geese coming in for a landing

This is number 33 in my photo life list, only 317 to go!

That’s it for this one, thanks for stopping by!

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15 responses

  1. Great shots!

    February 18, 2013 at 1:03 am

    • Thank you! With geese, it’s a little like shooting fish in a barrel.

      February 18, 2013 at 1:07 am

      • Ahh, but they’re so much fun. Much like gulls. Especially like the landing shots where they look like they’re almost water-skiing.

        February 18, 2013 at 2:17 am

  2. Your geese must be used to people. Around here they’re very wary of humans. It’s interesting that some of them aren’t supposed to fly south-I thought they all did. I’m sure their ability to find open water must determine where they winter over. Nice shots! Their should be at least a couple here that will sell.

    February 18, 2013 at 8:42 am

    • Thanks, but I doubt that any one would buy a photo of a goose.

      Maybe I should have explained in that post how I got the photos, it was something like traditional duck hunting from shore. I would stand in chest high weeds, leaning back against an 8 foot tall chain link fence, with a small tree right behind me, so I was somewhat out of sight. I would get to the pond at mid-morning, just as small flocks of geese were arriving to spend the day. With some geese already there in or around the pond, the newcomers felt quite safe in landing. As they would fly past me, I’d step forward to photograph them, then return to cover to await the next flock.

      February 18, 2013 at 9:08 am

      • You’d be surprised what people will buy. I think geese would sell well here because we don’t see them every day. A professional I talked with got started by selling a picture of a mallard taking off!

        February 18, 2013 at 12:58 pm

      • Maybe once I get a start and have a little extra money, I’ll print one or two of the best goose photos. Thanks for the encouragement!

        February 18, 2013 at 1:10 pm

  3. Interesting comments above about the relative scarcity of Canada geese. In Westchester County, NY, close to NYC, they have become a real pest, and students at some campuses have to tip toe down paths to avoid droppings. It would be easy to get close photos there, but the background? Not so nice! Your photos are wonderful – best of luck with your project. (Maybe you can get some nice nest & gosling photos later?)

    February 18, 2013 at 3:17 pm

    • Thank you! Canada geese were scarce in the 1960’s and 70’s, now they, and their crap are everywhere! I doubt if I will have nest shots, I avoid nesting birds most of the time. I posted so many gosling shots last spring that even I grew tired of them. 😉

      February 18, 2013 at 10:06 pm

  4. Northern Narratives

    I also think that water bird photos might sell because people seem to have a connection with these birds, for example they see water birds at the beach or when fishing or in a boat. I don’t know, I have never tried to sell photos. Best of luck to you.

    February 18, 2013 at 5:55 pm

    • Thanks, I made a half hearted attempt a couple years ago, but the prints weren’t as good as some of my recent work. I think that sunset and the moonrise photos may sell, and a few others.

      February 18, 2013 at 10:12 pm

  5. A fine set of pictures.

    February 18, 2013 at 6:07 pm

    • Thank you!

      February 18, 2013 at 10:10 pm

  6. I still admire your determination with this project. Love the geese photos. Especially the one where two seem as one.

    February 18, 2013 at 9:32 pm

    • It may have to do with how observent I have become since I started this, but I’ve added almost a dozen species to my life list in the past month. I caught a Carolina wren Sunday, how lucky is that? The more I do, the more I want to flood the net with the posts I have saved as drafts, but I know that things will eventually slow down.

      February 18, 2013 at 10:15 pm