Photo: Mark Buckler
Scientific Name: Branta canadensis
Classification: Game Species
Abundance: Common throughout state
Species Profile (pdf)
Coexisting With Canada Geese (pdf)
Canada Geese (Photo: Mark Buckler)
With its characteristic “honk”, widespread breeding distribution and ability to adapt to suburban environments, the Canada goose is likely the most recognized waterfowl species in North Carolina. Although similar in appearance, Canada geese can be divided into 11 subspecies partially based on body size, subtle differences in coloration and breeding distribution. Although most sub-species or populations are migratory in nature, populations of non-migratory Canada geese have been increasing in North Carolina and elsewhere over the last 20 years.
Adult Canada geese found in North Carolina typically average about 10 pounds and between 2 ½ and 3 feet in length. Males, also called ganders, are larger than females. Although the various subspecies differ in some ways, all have similar characteristics: a black bill, black legs and black feet; black head and neck, with a white cheek patch that usually covers the throat; back, wings, sides and breast are various shades of gray and brown; white belly, flank and undertail coverts. Black tail and rump are separated by a white V-bar formed by the white upper-tail coverts. Canada geese are easily distinguished by their “honking” call and appropriately nicknamed “honkers” by many people.
Learn more by reading the Canada Goose species profile.
Migratory Game Bird Regulations
Goose Zone Maps
NE Goose Hunt Zone Permits (PDF)
Additional Info (including license requirements, non-toxic shot requirements, baiting information and various reports)
Youth Waterfowl Days
Veterans/Military Waterfowl Day(s)
Permit Hunting Opportunities
Canada geese are classified as migratory birds under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. As such, they are protected by federal law and managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). Migratory Canada goose populations have dwindled from historic numbers, while resident Canada geese (geese that nest or reside in the lower 48 states during April – August), have thrived in recent decades. Rather than natural wetlands, these largely non-migratory birds often make their home in cities and suburbs and can be very tolerant of humans. Resident Canada geese can be found in places like parks, golf courses, and parking lots, and sometimes come in conflict with their human neighbors.
Ponds surrounded by a manicured lawn provide ideal habitat for Canada geese. For these large waterfowl, walking access to water means safety from predators, and a mowed lawn provides an unlimited, convenient food source. Parks and neighborhoods unintentionally attract Canada geese by supplying the following resources:
When it comes to managing conflicts with Canada geese, strategies can have varying levels of success depending on the time of year and how long the birds have been in the area. Click here to see which management strategies are recommended based on the time of year.
2016-2020 Canada Goose Hunting and Harvest Estimate Maps
1949-2019 Canada Goose Harvest and Hunter Trends (PDF)
Please report all bands online at www.reportband.gov
Please be aware that starting July, 2017, the toll-free telephone number that had previously been available to report bird bands is being discontinued. This discontinuation is collectively due to past problems with accurate data recording, high rates of dropped calls and budget cuts. People calling this toll-free number will be directed to report their bird bands using the REPORTBAND website or by mail. We rely heavily on your cooperation in reporting banded birds to help in their management, and we would like to thank you for your continued support in this effort.
Canada Goose Species Profile (PDF)
Waterfowl in North Carolina
Sandy Mush Game Land Birding Check List (PDF)