Pair Movements in Canada Geese


  • Kathryn Wilkins


Canada geese (Branta canadensis) are a staple of most parks, neighborhoods, and even shopping centers (Conover 1998) – wherever there is a body of water with subsequent aquatic vegetation, you will most likely find Canada geese. This is especially true during their annual molting period from mid-June to late July, in which they shed and regrow their flight feathers. It is generally accepted that geese with broods prefer to molt and rear the brood near to or at their own birthplaces- this concept is known as philopatry.
Over the summer of 2020, I observed the Canada goose flock of Cookeville, Tennessee to discern whether this philopatric trend can be observed within the flock. Geese with broods and those without were examined and analyzed separately to accommodate for the heightened philopatry that is commonly seen in geese that are rearing broods. Results showed that local males, those first captured in the Cookeville flock as hatch years, did indeed travel farther on average than local females. It was also found that individuals were philopatric to their natal sight whether or not they had had a brood that season. Such results raise questions regarding the following, or lack thereof, of seen trends within the study: (1) If the trends followed are seen in the Cookeville flock, are they followed by other resident flocks? and (2) Are the common trends that are not being followed due to the flock being a resident flock, or is it due to other variables?