Canada geese are known for being noisy, using loud honks and other sounds to communicate with the flock. Have you ever heard geese “talking” to each other and wondered what they were saying? Here’s a look at how geese communicate.
How Do Canada Geese Communicate?
The Canada goose – sometimes called the Canada goose – communicates through a variety of sounds like honks, cluck sounds, and calls. These birds also communicate through body language. Using a combination of sound and movement, the geese can alert other members of the flock to nearby dangers, provide navigation instructions while flying, help all the birds stay together, and more.
Communication Through Goose Calls and Honks
One way that a goose talks to others is through sound. While the noises may seem similar to you, they actually use a variety of different calls for different scenarios, such as talking during flight, responding to mates, warding off intruders, informing the flock of potential dangers, and when they recognize a familiar goose. Goslings also make calls to their goose parents while still in their eggs, and the parents use a variety of call types to communicate with their young geese.
Honking in Flight
Flocks of geese make honking sounds to help them take off in unison, navigate and stay together while flying, and conserve energy while in the air. During their time in flight, each bird uses distinct honking patterns to coordinate their movements. The lead goose sets the pace with a series of honks, signaling to others when to change direction or adjust their speed.
The geese also honk to coordinate position shifts while flying in the V formation, which makes the flock more aerodynamic. Geese honk to encourage one another to stay in position, ensuring that the birds maintain a cohesive and streamlined formation while flying away from the snow for the season. When preparing for landing, geese engage in synchronized honking to communicate their intentions to the entire flock.
Honking with Mates
Geese make honking sounds as part of their communication with mates. Male geese often engage in elaborate honking displays to attract potential mates. These displays can include a combination of long, rhythmic honks and shorter, more frequent honks. This signals their readiness to mate, establishes their presence, and attracts the attention of female geese. Geese in mated pairs often greet the other with loud honking after they’ve been apart, even if it was only for a short amount of time.
Honking to Defend Territory
Geese are territorial and are willing to defend their home if they feel their nest or family are threatened. These birds – especially the males – use big displays and loud calls and hisses directed at intruders who get too close to a nesting goose, her nest, or a young goose. Ducks, geese, and humans may all be considered intruders. A goose may also attack if it feels threatened. In this instance, they’ll honk and hiss while stretching their neck out, and may also bite, use their wings to slap, and fan their tail feathers.
Honking as an Alarm Call
Canada geese make honking sounds as a warning system to alert other geese of potential threats. They produce distinct honk variations to indicate the level of danger. A louder and more urgent honk suggests a more immediate and significant threat, while a softer honk may indicate a milder warning.
Honking for Recognition
A goose uses honking so others within the flock recognize it. Each goose has a unique honking pattern, enabling them to maintain social bonds and locate specific flock members. This recognition through honking reinforces their sense of belonging and strengthens their cohesive group structure. Typically, geese use short, quiet grunts to communicate with geese over a short distance. Females, however, use a loud, prolonged snoring sound as a special greeting call.
Communication Through Body Language
While honking is the primary form of communication for these birds, geese also use body language to convey messages. If you’re wondering what geese say to one another, pay attention to their gestures. Geese move their heads, stretch their necks, and flap their wings in addition to honking to enhance communication within the flock.
Body Language at Feeding Grounds
At feeding grounds, geese use specific movements to signal the availability of food. The commonly bob their heads, splash water, and peck to indicate a food source. This helps coordinate the flock’s feeding activities and ensures the nearby resources are used efficiently. The birds will also make low pitched honks to make sure others know where they are.
Ideal feeding grounds for geese have manicured grass, aquatic plants, and berries, all of which geese eat. Locations with ponds, bird feeders, and humans who are willing to share their meal are also appealing to geese.
Body Language in Hierarchy
Geese establish and maintain a hierarchical structure within their flock. Aggressive postures, wing spreading, and hissing are some behaviors exhibited by dominant geese to assert their authority and maintain their rank within the social hierarchy. For example, when a goose holds its head high, it’s making sure others know that it’s in charge. On the other hand, when a goose holds its head low, it’s acknowledging that some other goose is the boss.
Body Language for Mating
Geese use specific body language to attract potential mates. Bowing their heads, stretching their necks, and posturing their wings are common courtship displays. These gestures convey interest and facilitate the formation of pair bonds. Bonded pairs can be seen with each holding their bill up high, for example. Males bob their heads in and out of the pond before mating with females. Males may also chase other geese and honk at them as a way to attract the attention of female geese.
Body Language for Threats
When potential dangers arise, geese can use movement to communicate the danger to fellow geese as well as warn intruders to stay away. When confronted with a threat, they display aggressive postures, such as raising their wings, hissing, and charging, as a warning sign to deter potential predators and to protect their flock. When the goose extends its neck and honks, it’s telling others that it’s becoming impatient. Before a goose attacks, it warns the intruder by showing its raised tongue, vibrating its neck feathers, and hissing.
Tired of Noisy Geese on Your Property?
Canada geese are loud, chatty species of bird that can quickly annoy the tenants and guests on your property. What can you do about it? Hiring a professional goose control company in the state of Ohio is a humane and effective way to deter geese from staying on your land.
At Go Geese Go, we use highly trained border collies to herd the geese and chase them away. The birds are never harmed; rather, they perceive your property to be inhabited by predators and decide to move somewhere else. This method is more effective than using decoys, recordings of animal calls, devices that make loud sounds, and other popular goose control methods.