Family Ducks, Geese, Swans (Anatidae)

Least Concern

Canada Goose (Branta canadensis)


French: Bernache du Canada German: Kanadagans Spanish: Barnacla canadiense grande
Other common names: Dusky Canada Goose (occidentalis), Vancouver Canada Goose (fulva), Lesser Canada Goose (parvipes), Moffitt Canada Goose (moffitti), Giant Canada Goose (maxima), Hudson Bay Canada Goose (interior), Atlantic Canada Goose (canadensis)

Anas canadensis


, 1758,



Molecular analysis (two types of mtDNA) found that this species was sister to B. sandvicensis#R. Until recently, considered conspecific with B. hutchinsii (which see). Has hybridized in captivity with several species of Cygnus, Branta, Anser, also with Alopochen aegyptiaca and Cairina moschata, and in the wild only rarely with Anser caerulescens#R#R. Race fulva possibly inseparable from occidentalis. Large numbers of new races proposed in 2006/07 for this complex#R; all provisionally omitted here, pending further assessment. Seven subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • B. c. occidentalis (S. F. Baird, 1858) – Copper R delta and islands in Gulf of Alaska and Prince William Sound, S Alaska; winters on coasts from S British Columbia S to Oregon.
  • B. c. fulva Delacour, 1951 – coastal S Alaska and W British Columbia.
  • B. c. parvipes (Cassin, 1852) – C interior Alaska E throughout inland Canada to NW Hudson Bay; winters SC USA.
  • B. c. moffitti Aldrich, 1946 – SW & S Canada and W USA; winters NW USA S to NW Mexico.
  • B. c. maxima Delacour, 1951 – formerly Great Plains; reintroduced in Mississippi flyway.
  • B. c. interior Todd, 1938 – C & E Canada and SW Greenland; winters E USA.
  • B. c. canadensis (Linnaeus, 1758) – SE Canada and NE USA; winters E USA.
  • Introduced and well established in much of the USA S of the normal breeding range, and in Britain, NW & C Europe (chiefly nominate canadensis) and New Zealand (mainly race maxima).

    Descriptive notes

    55–110 cm; 1310–6523 g; wingspan 122–183 cm. Unmistakable though very variable; black head and neck with white cheek patches unique. Sexes basically alike,... read more


    Males of larger races give characteristic “ha-honk, ha-honk” in aggressive, territorial and pre-... read more


    A very adaptable species, occurring in a wide diversity of habitats, from tundra to semi-desert and... read more

    Food and feeding

    Essentially vegetarian; grasses, roots, stems, leaves, fruits and green parts of aquatic plants and sedges; in winter also grain and... read more


    Season varies much according to locality but concentrated in spring, may begin in early to mid Mar in S of range, but not until late Apr in... read more


    Natural populations mainly migratory, flying southwards to winter in southern states of USA and... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Total indigenous population of this species and B. hutchinsii (mostly the present species) over 3,000,000 birds in 1980s and... read more

    Recommended citation

    Carboneras, C., Christie, D.A. & Kirwan, G.M. (2019). Canada Goose (Branta canadensis). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 14 November 2019).