Harteman Wildfowl | kvk 90846257 | ubn 6872294

Canada goose & Cackling goose

Branta canadensis & Branta hutchinsii

Grote Canadese gans & Kleine Canadese gans


One of the most common of all North-American waterfowl, the Canada Goose is also the most common of all wild goose species kept in collections. In some parts of the US, the Canada Goose has become a nuisance with large numbers congregating in city parks and golf courses. The wild range is large, breeding from the Aleutian Islands south into the United States. Canada Geese are also year round, breeding residents in many southern states and has been introduced into Britian, parts of Europe and New Zealand.


Once described as one species, now split up into two different species including eleven subspecies and one extinct subspecies. The subspecies vary a great deal in size, and in some cases, markings. Branta canadensis (Sibley and Monroe 1990, 1993) has been split into B. canadensis and B. hutchinsii following AOU (2004).


Canada goose, Branta canadensis
  • Atlantic Canada goose or Eastern Canada goose, Branta canadensis canadensis - nominate race
  • Lesser Canada goose, Branta canadensis parvipes
  • Moffitt's Canada goose, Branta canadensis moffittii
  • Interior Canada goose or Todd's/Central Canada goose, Branta canadensis interior
  • Dusky Canada goose, Branta canadensis occidentalis
  • Vancouver Canada goose, Branta canadensis fulva
  • Giant Canada goose, Branta canadensis maxima
Cackling goose, Branta hutchinsii
  • Richardson's goose or Hutchin's Canadagoose Branta hutchinsii hutchinsii - nominate race
  • Cackling goose, Branta hutchinsii minima
  • Aleutian Canada goose, Branta hutchinsii leucopareia
  • Taverner's Canada goose, Branta hutchinsii taverneri
  • Bering Island Canada goose, Branta hutchinsii asiatica - extinct

The smallest subspecies, the Cackling Canada Goose, is not much larger than a mallard and is a much sought after aviary bird. The Cackling is darker than other small Canadas and breeds along the western coast of Alaska. The Aleutian Canada Goose is one of the rarest subspecies, breeding only on the Aleutian Islands. This subpsecies can be recognized by it's small size, only about 5 pounds, and a white ring at the base of the neck. The Richardson's Canada is only slightly larger than the Cackling, but much lighter and found in central Canada, migrating south through the Great Plains. The Bering Island Canada goose is described from only two specimens, last seen in 1914. These geese are doubtlessly extinct.

Two other small subspecies are the Lesser Canada and the Taverner's. Both are similar, with the Taverner's being a little darker.

One of the most common of the subspecies is the Interior or Central Canada Goose. This race is very abundant in the wild and can be found throughout the eastern and central US. Another very common subspecies is the Atlantic or Eastern Canada Goose. The Atlantic is similar to the Interior, but slightly larger. It is believed that this is the race introduced abroad. The Moffitt's Canada is found mostly west of the Rockies. It is somewhat lighter than the above two subspecies, but similar in size.

The Dusky and the Vancouver Canada are the darkest of the Canadas. Both share similar ranges along the Pacific Coast of Alaska and Canada, with the Vancouver being larger than the Dusky. They are easily distinguished with their darker overall colors.

The largest of the subspecies is the Giant Canada Goose. The Giant Canada was believed to be extinct, but was rediscovered in the 1960s. Ganders can reach the size of 23 pounds or more and both sexes may also have a white band above the bill and eyes on the forehead.

Canada Geese are not picky when it comes to breeding. Nests are either made on the ground close to water or in tubs placed on the water. The breeding season begins in early April, when the pair seeks out a spot for the hen to lay her clutch of six to ten eggs. Incubation is done solely by the hen, with the gander standing guard nearby. Incubation lasts 28 days, and the little goslings are cared for by both parents. Although the goslings are able to fly at two months of age, they remain together as a family group during migration and through the Winter.

This goose is readily available and often kept by beginners to the hobby. Larger Canadas are not suited to aviary life, dougn best when kept on free range with lots of room. Many breeders either pinion or wing clip their geese so they won't stray. The smaller subspecies, such as the cackling, are great for the aviary. They get along well with other species of waterfowl and breed well. They are extremely tough and hardy birds, able to withstand all types of weather.

  • Ringsize for Atlantic subspecies: 20 mm. Ring goslings when 14 days old. 
  • Ringsize for Dusky: 18 mm. Ring goslings when 15 days old. 
  • Ringsize for Cackling and Aleutian: 14 mm. Ring these when 14 days old.


Above: Branta canadensis moffitti (left) and Branta hutchinsii minima (right)



Above: Branta canadensis occidentalis (left) and Branta hutchinsii taverneri (right)



Above: Branta canadensis occidentalis (left) and Branta hutchinsii minima (right)



Above: Branta canadensis parvipes (left) and Branta hutchinsii minima (right)



Above: Cackling Canada goose, Branta hutchinsii minima



Above: Cackling Canada goose, Branta hutchinsii minima



Above: Moffit's Canada goose, Branta canadensis moffitti



Above: Aleutian Canada goose, Branta hutchinsii leucopareia



Above: Giant Canada goose, Branta canadensis maxima



Above: Giant Canada goose, Branta canadensis maxima

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