Canadian Geese Migration PathIt seems that Canadian Geese are one of the most followed bird groups in the US. Their overhead migrations are a sure sign of the changing of the seasons.
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Canadian Geese have incredibly long migration routes. In the winter, they take up residence throughout all lower US states, from California completely across to Georgia. Many even hang out in regions of Mexico.
When spring comes along and the weather gets warmer, they head north. Some stop in the top US states, from Washington through Maine. But many others continue to fly northwards, hitting the upper reaches of Alaska and the northernmost Canadian provinces.
Each goose group has its own path to take as it heads north. The paths are generally straight north-south, so pretty much every single state has geese either living in it or flying directly over it at some point during the year.
It would be a mistake to think "all geese start at point x and move together to point y". There are geese of all shapes and sizes that winter along a rather thick band of the southern US and Mexico. Some leave early and stop only a few states north, enjoying that location. Others leave late and decide to fly to the very top of Canada. Some may plan to stop in one state, find it crowded and meander along to another state. Whenever they finally end up somewhere they enjoy that has a good temperature, that is when they start laying eggs. That could be anywhere from early March to late June.
Geese are not necessarily aiming for "A Lake" that is exactly "1205.7 miles north". They simply decide it's too warm where they are, head north, and see what they see. Their decisions about when exactly to leave, how far to fly in a given day and when to stop are all based on a wide variety of factors like weather, comfortable temperature range, presence of dogs or other harassments, and so on.
As they age, if they keep finding a certain lake that is uncrowded, safe and full of food, they may aim for it in future years. But if the weather's bad or the lake's hospitality changes, they are quite happy to move on to a new spot.
The geese are definitely built for this long distance travel. They can reach up to 60mph during their flights, and can reach an altitude of 8,000 feet. They can fly at night, and can fly for up to 16 hours in a stretch.
Fly Away Home is a great movie about Canadian goose migration!
Canadian Gooses Main Index of Photos and Articles
Encyclopedia of Birds - Descriptions and Photos
Note: I originally wrote this content while I edited the site at birding.bellaonline.com. That site has permission to show my content.
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