10 Types Of Geese In Nova Scotia (Photo And ID Guide)

This guide will assist you recognize the kinds of geese seen in Nova Scotia, as well as provide you with images and detailed identification guides to help you identify them at any time of year. It will also include some interesting information.

Nova Scotia has been home to ten of the thirteen types of geese native to North America. Except for Canada Geese, who are common all year, they are winter visitors here.

A gaggle is a collection of geese. Have you heard such names as shien, wedge, and plump? They’re all given to geese.

Or that their territorial behavior and loud honking have been used for centuries to protect pets, people, and even countries!

In the United States, it is illegal to hurt geese, their eggs, or their nests without authorization from the US migratory bird treaty. US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS).

10 Types Of Geese In Nova Scotia:

1. Canada Goose

All year in Nova Scotia, Canada Geese can be found. Bird watchers for the province have recorded them in 12% of summer and 10% of winter checklists.

The Canada Goose is a big, long-necked goose with a black head and a readily visible white chin strap that is commonly known as the Canadian goose.

The black head and white chin strap of Canada Geese are identical to those of Cackling Geese, but their long, elegant neck and huge size set them apart.

Their chests are tan or light, with a white rump and brown bodies. The bodies of the subspecies may be gray or brown in color. They have black legs and webbed feet.

  • Branta canadensis
  • Length: 25 – 45 in (64 – 114 cm)
  • Weight: 230.09 oz (6521 g)
  • Wingspan: 70 – 75 in (178 – 190 cm)

Canada Geese are a Canadian goose breed that migrates to southern US states during the winter but stays in northern US states throughout the year. Western Europe is also home to them.

Canada Geese can be found practically anywhere. These creatures are often spotted near lakes and rivers, in general, wherever there is a body of water and a food supply. They reside happily in metropolitan environments such as city parks, reservoirs, golf courses, public parks, and beaches because they are also utilized to humans.

Their population has grown significantly in certain areas, and they’re considered pests.

When they are on land, Canada geese eat grasses and little aquatic insects and fish. When they are on the water, however, they mainly eat grasses. While on agricultural fields, they also consume wheat, rice, and corn. Humans provide food to them on a daily basis, or they rummage through trash bins.

Canada Geese nests are frequently found on high ground near water. In a nest built of plant materials and down, the female lays up to nine eggs. For about a month, she keeps the eggs warm while the male stays nearby and protects them.

Their parents take them to a meal source when they are ready to feed themselves after hatching. When parents sense danger or threats to their family, they are extremely territorial and violent.

Fun Fact: Adults lose their flight feathers during the breeding season since it coincides with molting. Just in time for them to fly with their young, they only regain their feathers after twenty to forty days.

2. Brant

During the winter, Brant Geese may be seen in Nova Scotia, however from March to May, they are most often seen. At this time, 1% of checklists have them.

A black head, neck, and breast, a white collar or marking on the neck, and a white rump distinguish the Brant Goose from other geese. Several sub-species exist, some with lighter or darker colors.

  • Branta bernicla
  • Length: 22 – 26 in (56 – 66 cm)
  • Weight: 63.84 oz (1809 g)
  • Wingspan: 43 – 48 in (109 – 122 cm)

Before traveling to coastal regions of the United States and Mexico, Brant Geese breed in Canada and Alaska. In addition, they reside in Europe.

During the breeding season, you may see Brant Geese in tundra, marshes, islands, and coastal areas. Salt marshes, lagoons, mudflats, and tidal estuaries are their habitats during the winter.

On land and in water, Brant geese eat mostly plant material. Eelgrass is their preferred food, however any grass will do. Sedges, pondweed, and aquatic insects are among the foods they consume.

Brant Geese nests are often found on tiny islands in tundra ponds or on high slopes. They’re down-lined grass bowls that are shallow.

The female lays up to seven eggs, which take three to four weeks to hatch. The parents take the offspring to the feeding location once the eggs have hatched, so they may feed themselves.

Fun Fact: Brant geese may live up to 28 years in the wild.

3. Snow Goose

Snow Geese are present in Nova Scotia from September to May, although they are not particularly frequent.

Except for its black wingtips, pink beak with a black grin patch, and pink legs and feet, the Snow Goose is appropriately named because it is totally white.

Except for its black wingtips, pink beak with a black grin patch, and pink legs and foots, the Snow Goose is appropriately named.

Surprisingly, the Blue Goose has a white head and a dark blue-gray body, although it has another variant. Due to their feeding, both versions of the Snow Geese may have a “stained” head on rare occasions.

Both versions have comparable sexes, however they may vary in size. Males have a tendency to be bigger than females.

Dusky gray-brown juvenile white morphs contrast with dark gray juvenile blue morphs. The distinctive pink beak and black grin patch, however, remain unchanged.

  • Anser caerulescens
  • Length: 25 – 31 in (64 – 79 cm)
  • Weight: 81.13 oz (2299 g)
  • Wingspan: 54.3 in (138 cm)

Snow Geese spend the winter in the United States, but breed mostly in Canada.

In freshwater marshes and agricultural grain fields, you may find Snow Geese and Blue Geese together. They prefer salt marshes and coastal coves in the winter, but they will visit plowed farmland or swamps if necessary.

Herbivores and hungry eaters, snow geese are. Water-logged soil or shallow water are common sources of food for them. Grasses, sedges, willows, rushes, and horsetails are among the plants they adore. Seeds, grains, and plants torn up by their roots will also be eaten.

Snow Goose nests are most often discovered in vast colonies on tundra. Because females return to the spot where they hatched to breed, they construct a nest, which is frequently a shallow depression on the ground.

She lines the nest with grasses and down after she lays the first three to five eggs. The goslings take around twenty-four days to incubate, and once they do, they are self-sufficient.

Fun Fact: When Snow Geese breed, they pick a color morph that is similar to their own.

4. Greater White-fronted Goose

In Nova Scotia, Greater White-fronted Geese are a uncommon or accidental species that can be seen from October to April during the winter season.

In Europe and North America, the Greater White-fronted Goose is referred to as the Greater Whitefront.

In Europe, the Greater White-fronted Goose is termed Whitefronted Goose, while in North America it’s known as Greater Whitefront.

Greater White-fronted Geese are both large geese, and they look similar in males and females.

They are frequently mistaken for the Graylag Goose because their barred feathers are mostly gray all-over. The “white front,” or the white feathers around the base of its orange beak, distinguishes them from other species. On their underparts, they also have black flecks.

  • Anser albifrons
  • Length: 26 – 34 in (66 -86 cm)
  • Weight: 126.98 oz (3599 g)
  • Wingspan: 53 – 60 in (135 – 152 cm)

Greater White-fronted Geese breed mostly in Canada and migrate to the United States and Mexico for the winter in North America. They can be found in Europe and east Asia, though.

The west of northern Canada is home to Greater White-fronted Geese, which spend the winter along the West Coast of the United States, The Gulf Coast, and Mexico.

During the breeding season, Greater White-fronted Geese may be found in marshy tundra, wetlands, rivers, and ponds. They dwell in agricultural land, marshes, bays, and lakes throughout the winter.

Both land and water are used by Greater White-fronted Geese. In agricultural fields, they eat seeds and grains. Grasses and berries are also eaten by them. They forage for aquatic insects and mollusks while near water.

In shallow depressions in the tundra, Greater White-fronted Geese nests may be found. They generally contain three to six eggs and are covered in grass and down. For two to three weeks, the female incubates them.

Fun Fact: Long-term family ties develop between Greater White-fronted Geese. The young remain with their parents until the following breeding season, and they migrate together, even with their offspring.

5. Pink-footed Goose

From October through March, Pink-footed Geese may be seen in Nova Scotia, although they are considered uncommon or vagabond geese in the region.

The Pink-footed Goose has pink feet and legs, which makes it difficult to distinguish from its close relatives, the Taiga and Tundra Bean Geese. Despite their similar appearances, they are not the same.

Their heads are brown, their bills are black with a pink band in the center, and their backs and wings are blue-gray. Their throats, breasts, bellies, rumps, and legs are all white.

When it comes to looks, males and females are similar, although juveniles have a more apparent scaling pattern on their flanks, sides, and backs.

  • Anser brachyrhynchus
  • Length: 26 in (66 cm)
  • Weight: 97.6 0z (2766 g)
  • Wingspan: 53 – 67 in (135 – 170 cm)

Pink-footed Geese migrate to eastern Canada and the northern United States throughout the winter. Greenland and Europe, on the other hand, are home to the majority of them.

Open tundra, enormous estuaries, agricultural farmlands, and rocky outcroppings and crags are all good places to find Pink-footed Geese.

During the summer, Pink-footed Geese eat a wide range of tundra plants, both on land and in water, while winter brings agricultural grains, sugar beets, and potatoes.

Pink-footed Geese nests are commonly seen on glaciers and islets in lakes, usually near cliffs. To protect themselves from predatory attacks, they need a secure environment for nesting. Simple, shallow scrapes in the soil lined with moss and down make up nests.

Females lay three to five eggs and incubate them for approximately four weeks. The tiny goslings walk with their parents to the nearest lake for food after the eggs have hatched.

Fun Fact: Pink-footed Geese, on the other hand, help farmers by eating sugar beet and potato leaves and roots after harvest, even if they may cause damage to crops while feeding. Crop illnesses are less likely to spread due to this.

6. Barnacle Goose

In Nova Scotia, Barnacle Geese are a uncommon species, although they were last seen in Port La Tour.

Medium-sized yet delicate-looking geese, Barnacle Geese are a breed. Their bills are small and black, with a black head, neck, and upper chest. Their bellies are white, and their wings and back are silver-gray with black and white bands.

V-shaped rumps and silver-gray linings are visible when in flight.

  • Branta leucopsis
  • Length: 23 – 28 in (58 – 71 cm)
  • Weight: 62.4 oz (1768 g)
  • Wingspan: 52 – 56 in (132 – 142 cm)

The North Atlantic is home to Barnacle Geese, who breed and migrate throughout the year.

Salt marshes, grassy plains, pastureland, and agricultural plains are all good places to look for Barnacle Geese. They usually occupy islets, islands, and cliff ledges near to shore during the breeding season.

Grass is the major source of food for barnacle geese, whether on tundra, near water, or in agricultural fields. When near water and crops and grains in fields, they also eat aquatic vegetation and insects.

To defend the eggs from predators, Barnacle Goose nests are frequently built on cliff ledges. The nest is lined with soft down feathers by the female, who uses mud and dead foliage to make it.

For twenty-five days, the female sits on five eggs and looks after them. The juvenile are taken to marshes with plenty of flora so they may feed themselves after the eggs hatch. After nearly 45 days, they had fledge.

Fun Fact: The name Barnacle Goose comes from a Medieval Legend which states that they originated from Barnacles.

7. Cackling Goose

In Nova Scotia, Cackling Geese are an uncommon sight and have been labeled as an accidental species. In 2021, they were last seen near Truro and Shaws Pond.

Canada Geese look a lot like Cackling Geese, which are indigenous to North America. They were established as a complete species in 2004, after being previously classified as part of the Canada Goose family.

With a white “chinstrap” patch, Cackling Geese have black heads and necks. They have triangular, black bills. Females have white bands on the legs and tail, while males are lighter brown or tan.

Cackling Geese, on the other hand, have stubbier bills, steeper foreheads, and shorter necks than Canada Geese.

The black heads and necks of all four subspecies, including the white chinstrap, are distinctive. They vary in size and coloration.

  • Branta hutchinsii
  • Length: 22 – 30 in (56 – 76 cm)
  • Weight: 105.9 oz (3001 g)
  • Wingspan: 43 – 47 in (109 – 119 cm)

Cackling Geese migrate to the United States for the winter after breeding in Canada and Alaska.

Cackling Geese may be seen in wetlands and meadows year-round. In the winter, they often join flocks and blend with other geese in lakes, marshes, and fields, but in the summer, they prefer to stay on the tundra.

Cackling Geese graze on grasses and consume sedges and berries in open areas. In agricultural fields, they may devour wheat, barley, beans, rice, and corn. Aquatic plants are the source of food for them in the water.

Cackling Goose nests may be found individually or in clusters. They’re generally found near the water, in a shallow depression but with a slightly elevated position. The nests are built with plant material and down by the females. She will deposit up to eight eggs and keep them for about a month in this nest.

Fun Fact: The high-pitched call of Cackling Geese differs from that of Canada Geese, and is a distinguishing feature.

8. Ross’s Goose

In Nova Scotia, Ross’ Geese are an unintended species. They were last seen near Mavillette Beach in 2015, and they are extremely rare in the province.

Ross’ Geese, who often flock with Snow Geese, are rather similar to them. Their short, gray-based red-orange bills, pink-red legs and feet, and black wingtips are the only exceptions to their white coloration. The female is somewhat smaller than the male.

Ross’ Goose has a dark phase variation, however it’s extremely uncommon. It features a white head, a brownish beak with a crimson patch, black gray throats, underparts, and back.

  • Anser rossii
  • Length: 21 – 26 in (53 – 66 cm)
  • Weight: 59.2 oz (1678 g)
  • Wingspan: 47 – 54 in (119 – 137 cm)

The Ross’ Geese spend the winter in the United States, where they breed in northern Canada.

During the winter, Ross’ Geese can be found in both salt and freshwater marshes. They will breed on the Arctic Tundra throughout the breeding season.

The geese that Ross raises are grazers, and they forage from marshes, meadows, and fields for grass, sedges, and small grains.

In colonies on lake islands and arctic tundra, Ross’s Geese nests are found. Females collect grasses, moss, leaves, and twigs to line the nests they build on the ground. There are four to five eggs per breeding female, which she incubates for around three weeks.

Fun Fact: The tiniest geese in North America are Ross’ Geese.

9. Tundra Bean-Goose

In Nova Scotia, Tundra Bean-Geese are an accidental species, and they were only observed near Yarmouth in 2013, according to records.

Some authorities still consider the Tundra Bean-Goose to be a single species, despite its close relationship to the Taiga Bean-Goose. They are already recognized as different species by the American Ornithological Society and the International Ornithologists’ Union.

Brown on the head, with a black beak and orange band in the middle, Tundra Bean-Geese are a sight to see. Their backs and wings have a dark brown barring pattern, while their throat and flanks have light brown barring. White rumps on their backs. Orange is the color of their legs and feet.

Juveniles have a yellow beak, dull orange legs, and indefinite barring on the flanks, while males and females appear similar.

The Tundra Bean Goose has a shorter beak with a smaller orange band on the bill, whereas Taiga Bean Goose has a longer beak with a wide orange marking.

  • Anser serrirostris
  • Length: 28 – 33 in (71 – 84 cm)
  • Weight:120 oz (3401 g)
  • Wingspan: 53 – 64 in (135 – 163 cm)

In Europe, but not in North America, Taiga Bean Geese are most common.

Tundra Bean-Goose, particularly during breeding season, may be found in tundra. Marshes, wet meadows, lakes, and major rivers are all expected to be home to this species during the winter. They also like to spend time on farms, where they can meet other geese.

Tundra Bean-Geese eat grasses, seeds, and tiny animals in marshlands, but cereal grains, potatoes, and other crops in agricultural fields.

Tundra Bean-Geese nests are frequently discovered amid tundra vegetation. On a dry hummock of moss, nests are constructed of lichen and down. For twenty-six days, the female incubates four to six eggs.

Fun Fact: Tundra Bean-Goose are sensitive to disturbance, so they favor areas with few grazing animals.

10. Graylag Goose

In Nova Scotia, Whitelag Geese are an accidental species. In the province, they’re extremely uncommon, with the latest sightings in 2019 near Groves Point.

Most domestic goose breeds are descended from the Graylag Goose (Greylag Goose). Their beak is pinkish-orange, with a white tip at the end, and their legs are dull pink. They are mostly dark gray all over.

Females are somewhat smaller than males, but both sexes appear similar.

  • Anser anser
  • Length: 34 in (86.36 cm)
  • Weight: 76 oz (2154 g)
  • Wingspan: 66 in (167.6 cm)

Domesticated geese are often greylag geese in North America, and they may be too big to fly. Because they are originally from Europe, wild ones are rare to come by.

During their breeding season, you may find Graylag Geese in marshes, lakes, and reservoirs. They like reeds, rushes, and shrubs because they prefer habitats with thick ground cover. Saltwater marshes, estuaries, bogs, and even agricultural land are home to them during the winter.

Both land and water are sources of food for Graylag Geese. They feed on grass on land, grazing alongside sheep or cattle in pastures. Cereals, such as oats, wheat, and barley, that they discover in agricultural fields and farmlands are also eaten by them.

Graylag Geese eat aquatic plants and animals, such as small fish, amphibians, crustaceans, mollusks, and insects. They feed near or on water.

Graylag Goose nests are frequently discovered amid tall reeds or shrubs on the ground. The female creates four to six eggs, with the final egg being deposited when the incubation period begins. For a few weeks, she will sit on the eggs while the male protects the area.

Fun Fact: Graylag Goose feathers were utilized to fletch arrows and were utilized as quill pens.

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