INDIANAPOLIS — Less than forty years ago, the giant Canada goose was extremely rare in Indiana. As a result of restoration efforts and a large increase in small urban and suburban water bodies, Canada geese are now quite common. Many people enjoy seeing them fly in a v-formation or hearing their distinctive honk, but problems can occur when too many gather in an area.
Canada gees on lawn
Lawns and ponds are ideal for geese.
Typically, developers and landowners unknowingly cause the problem by creating ideal goose habitat. Geese feed extensively on fresh, short, green grass. With a permanent body of water nearby - such as a water retention pond, subdivision lake, golf course water hazard or water gardens – conditions are perfect to geese to set up residence, multiply and concentrate. Geese, including their young, also have a strong tendency to return to the same area year after year. Once geese start nesting in a particular place, the stage is already set for more geese in the future.
Don’t feed the geese
Feeding geese makes the problem worse. It concentrates larger numbers of geese in areas that under normal conditions would only support a few. Artificial feeding can also disrupt normal migration patterns and hold geese in areas longer than normal. With an abundant source of artificial food available, geese can devote more time to locating nesting sites and mating.
Congregating geese can cause damage to landscape. Large amounts of excrement can render swimming areas, parks, golf courses, lawns, docks, and patios unfit for human use. Since they are active grazers, they are particularly attracted to lawns and ponds located near apartment complexes, houses, office areas and golf courses. Geese can rapidly denude lawns, turning them into barren, dirt areas.
Canada geese on a nest
Geese aggressive during nesting season.
Geese are particularly aggressive during breeding and nesting season. Their behavior can cause problems around businesses when geese attack and nip at workers and customers.
Most problems in metropolitan areas occur from March through June during the nesting season. Breeding pairs begin nesting in late February and March. Egg-laying begins soon after nest construction is complete. Female giant Canada geese lay one egg every day and a half, and the average clutch size is five. Incubation of eggs begins after the last egg is laid and lasts 28 days.
Geese can cause a great deal of localized damage if many young are hatched in one area. After hatching, goslings are incapable of flight for about 70 days, so the young birds and their parents will graze near the hatching area for that time. Adults also molt their flight feathers near the end of June, rendering them flightless for 15 to 20 days. Molting also leaves feathers and down scattered around the area.