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Canada goose

Branta canadensis

This species is the largest non-native goose found in the UK.

Originating from North America, they were introduced to Britain in the 17th century as an ornamental bird for park and garden lakes: They were recorded as part of King Charles II’s waterfowl collection in St James’s Park in 1665.

Since then, they have successfully established themselves, with large populations across the UK. They are a familiar sight in parks and on golf courses or almost any other large grassy area. They’re quite tame and not very shy of humans, which enables them to live in urban as well as rural areas.

They are instantly recognisable features from their large size, their long, black neck with the distinctive white “chinstrap”.

These geese have inspired numerous songs and poems in their native North America such as Mary Oliver’s much loved poem Wild Geese: ‘Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air, are heading home again’.

While some find them a little dominant and boisterous, there’s no denying their beauty as they fly overhead in a V-shaped formation, honking to each other to signal changes in direction and speed.

Local spotlight

They are extremely common in the Solent region: you can see them inland on lakes and park ponds and on the coast too using fields, marshes and lagoons.

Did you know?

As their name suggests, Canada geese originated in North America, and were introduced to Britain in the 17th century by Charles II as part of his collection of birds.