Geese

Geese, or goose in its singular form, are described as a waterfowl species belonging to the Anatidae family that also includes ducks and swans. All the birds of these family show adeptness in floating on water, swimming as well as diving.

Types of Geese

List of Common Types of Geese Species

There are three distinct genera of geese, namely Anser (gray), Chen (white), and Bre

  • Barnacle Goose
  • Cackling Goose
  • Bar-headed Goose
  • Brent Goose
  • Canada Goose
  • Hawaiian Goose
  • Bean Goose
  • Bar-Headed Goose
  • White-Fronted Goose
  • Magellan Goose
  • Kelp Goose
  • Cape Barren Goose
  • Orinoco Goose
  • Egyptian Goose
  • Magpie Goose
  • Spur-winged Goose
  • Ruddy-headed goose
  • Blue-winged Goose
  • Ross’s Goose

Appearance and Physical Description

Size: Their size ranges from small to big, varying from one species to the other. E.g., the barnacle goose is medium-sized, being 20 to 28 inches (55 to 70 cm) long with a wingspan of about 51 to 57 inches (130 to 145 cm). The brant, on the other hand, is small in size, being 22 to 26 inches (55 to 66cm) long.

Weight: They may be a little heavy or on the lighter side. The brant weighs just 1.9 to 4.9 lbs (0.88 to 2.2 kg), whereas the barnacle is between 2.7 and 4.9 lbs (1.21 to 2.23 kg).

Color: They may appear in diverse colors like black or gray with different shades or patterns.

Beak: Most of them have a humped bill, tapered to the tip.

Wings: Like other waterfowl species, most of them have short and pointed wings, backed by strong muscles, helping them to gain momentum when in flight. The barnacle has silver-gray wings, whereas that of the Egyptian goose is white, especially when mature.

Neck: Most of them have a long neck, though the degree of its length differs from one species to the other.

Feet: They generally have webbed feet.

Legs: Their legs are mostly short and strong set far behind their body, also having a leathery and scaly texture.

Geese

Distribution

Different species of geese occur throughout the Northern and Southern Hemisphere. Species of the Anser genus are indigenous to North America, Central Asia, Western Europe, and northern Siberia. The species of Branta genus dwell in North America, Alaska, northern Canada, as well as the Hawaiian Islands. The Chen genus exists in Greenland, Alaska, northeastern Siberian tip, and Canada.

Habitat

They inhabit marshes, lakes, and ponds, as well as grassy regions.

How Long Do Geese Live

In the wild, the geese have a lifespan between 10 and 20 years, though the numbers may vary from one species to the other.  

What Do Geese Eat

They maintain a herbivorous diet comprising of shoots, seeds, stems, roots, grass, berries, bulbs, and grains. Many even thrive on insects. The Canada geese go down into the water for grazing upon the aquatic plants present. Goslings mostly eat grass.

Geese Teeth

Behavioral Characteristics

  • Like other birds belonging to the Anatidae family, the geese are vocal, producing squeaks, trumpeting sounds, honks, squeaks, and quacks. The voices of females are more in-depth than their male counterparts.
  • To display bouts of anger, they vibrate the feathers of their neck, while the gander may display triumph on defeating an enemy. They would also honk aloud when stressed or threatened.
  • In spring and fall, they migrate, forming groups, flying together resembling a V-shape.
  • Geese mostly have an instinct of returning to their birthplace for mating and nesting. If not the exact location, they would return to an adjacent pond or water body. The migratory geese would fly to distance of 2000 to 3000 miles to get back to their site where they were born.
  • They spend a major part of their day in searching for food, mostly attained by grazing.
  • Geese have a strong affinity for one another. If a member in the group falls sick or gets injured, some in the group would get out of the formation and try helping their fellow mate. They would remain with the disabled goose till the time it heals and starts flying again.

Adaptation

  • Their sharp-pointed bills help in grasping the grasses that they feed on with ease.
  • Most of their wings have special oils that make it waterproof, helping in shedding the water, preventing it from being waterlogged.
  • The webbed feet of the geese help them in paddling smoothly through the water.
  • Since they fly in a V-range, their flight range improves by about 71% than what it would be if they flew solitarily. 
Embden Geese

Mating and Reproduction

Geese are monogamous birds, dwelling in pairs all year round. They display an immense loyalty in this regard. They would select a mate at the age of three remaining with that partner for life.  After the death of a mate, most of them prefer remaining single all their life, though some might find a mate again. Most of them would mate throughout their life and start breeding when they are about two years of age. The mating behavior displayed by the geese involves showing excitement, treading, copulating, mounting, after-displaying, and recovering.

An expecting female goose would make a nest, covering it with feathers that she plucks from her own body. She lays a single egg in a day until the completion of the entire clutch, comprising of about five eggs. Post this. She incubates her nest by sitting on it, with the process taking approximately 28 to 30 days. On leaving the nest, she makes it a point to cover her eggs with sticks so that they are warm and protected from predators.

The young goslings would be safely led to open water after a day of their birth. They can swim and dive to a depth of 30 to 40 feet underwater from the time they are a day old. They can fly in two to three months old. They bond well with their parents and often form flocks with other young geese.

Geese-FAQs

1. What are male geese called?

A gander

2. What is a baby geese called?

A gosling

3. What is a group or flock of geese called?

Gaggle (when on the ground); team, skein or wedge (in flight); plump (flying close to one another)

4. Do geese fly?

Yes, they do, often making a V-formation, as mentioned above.

5. Where do geese sleep?

Like ducks, geese also sleep on water, mostly at night. They are not at the risk of being attacked by their predators since they, too, are in a state of repose then. Moreover, they are known to receive vibrations through the water during any impending danger.

6. Is it goose or geese?

Goose in the singular and geese in the plural.

7. Are geese aggressive?

Yes, especially when threatened since they cannot hide instantly to safeguard themselves.

8. Do geese lay eggs?

Yes, they do.

9. Are geese ducks?

No, but they belong to a similar family.

10. Do geese have teeth?

No, not real teeth but spiky, hard cartilage called tomium. This functions similarly to their teeth.

11. What are the predators of geese?

Their common predators include eagles, ravens, crows, foxes, coyotes, bobcats, and raccoons.

12. How fast can geese fly?

The Canadian geese have a speed of about 40 to 70 miles per hour.

13. How high do geese fly?

They fly at a great height, with the Canadian geese reaching an altitude of 2000 – 8000 feet.

14. How many geese are there in a gaggle?

Though there is no definite number, a group of at least three geese is known as a gaggle.

Geese Flying

Interesting Facts

  • Geese, goose or gander, is used metaphorically in several contexts. For instance, “have a gander” means examining something in proper detail, and “silly goose” refers to someone acting silly.
  • Goose symbolizes courage, loyalty, fearlessness, and devotion.
  • The fear of geese is called anatidaephobia