It's the time of year that geese migrate south for the winter. Isn't it? So why are there so many geese still hanging around, setting up housekeeping on our parks and golf courses? Did they decide to forgo the long trip north? In the early 1900s, non-migratory geese were brought in by the hundreds to populate wildlife refuges. Now, while many Canada Geese migrate south for the winter, these other geese stay -- and multiply.
Canada Geese - Migratory or Not?
Written by Frances Wood; revised by Bob Sundstrom
This is BirdNote!
[Sound of Canada Geese flying overhead]
Remember this sound from your childhood? [Sound of Canada Geese flying overhead] It’s one of our most familiar wild sounds, the calls of Canada Geese flying high overhead in long, gangly V-formation. And it’s one of our most enduring emblems of the change of seasons. [Sound of Canada Geese flying overhead]
October is the peak month in the southward migration of Canada Geese, geese that bred in summer in Canada and Alaska. “But,” you ask, “aren’t there Canada Geese around all through the year, on park lawns and golf courses?” [Sound of a golfer hollering “fore!” with geese in the background] Where do these geese fit into the picture?
It’s complicated. The birds we think of as “Canada Geese” – brown geese with a white chinstrap marking – actually comprise a whole range of geographic populations. Some are larger, some smaller, and most subgroups have distinct breeding ranges north of the U.S. border. However, some Canada Geese are now largely non-migratory, much to the chagrin of golfers and others. Many of the geese that now stay year ‘round are the descendants of birds introduced by game management authorities – in an effort to revive some of the original wild populations that had been decimated by the 1900s.
So, while some Canada Geese are migratory, flying thousands of miles each year between nesting and wintering sites, others are happy to stick around. We humans have made them an offer they can’t refuse – acres and acres of delectable grass on lawns, parks, and golf courses.
[Migrating Canada Geese]
There’s a lot more to learn on our website, birdnote.org.
Bird sounds provided by The Macaulay Library at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Recorded by G.B. Reynard and William W.H. Gunn.
Producer: John Kessler
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© 2013 Tune In to Nature.org October 2017/2021 Narrator: Michael Stein