How Far Do Geese Migrate In The Winter?

Sep 6, 2023

Geese Winter Migration

Geese tend to follow similar patterns year-to-year migrating across the North American landscape, following similar migratory patterns not only in regards to the general path they fly, but also where they stop to rest, as well as the areas these birds spend their summers and winters. Geese fly across many parts of the North American continent as a means of escaping harsh or extreme weather, and these wildlife animals have an easier time finding food in areas with a warmer climate during the typically coldest months. Geese migration can look very different for different species, but generally these birds are known to migrate seasonally to avoid hard winters of the north and the exhausting hot summers in the south. Often these birds will fly north as Spring begins to begin their breeding and nesting seasons, and will return to their favorite spots in the south as autumn transitions into winter.

Geese Migration Behavior

Why Remove Geese from Your Golf Club?

There are over a dozen species of geese in the United States and each species of geese has unique migratory behavior. Canada Geese are often referred to as Resident Geese because Canada Geese living in the US tend to stay in the country and not cross the border into Canada like many other species and are often considered non-migratory geese. This was not always the case with Canada Geese, but now new generations of these birds will follow the example of parents and if they do migrate they do not follow the flight pattern as many other geese species. Most species of geese have followed similar migrating patterns for decades, however as Canada Geese and other species become more sedentary there is a growing concern that these somewhat invasive birds will become less and less likely to migrate for the winter months.

Canada Geese Migration

Canada Geese trends lean towards a more sedentary lifestyle now, often opting to migrate less distances, and sometimes they stay in warmer climates as these animals seem to prefer traveling less distances. This behavior doesn’t include all Canada geese, however, as some still migrate all of the way to the Arctic circle in the most northern part of Canada. Canada Geese fly to the south between September and October where they will remain until sometimes between April and June.

What is Geese Migration?

Migration is a yearly pattern that takes place across changing seasons that allow geese and other birds access to resources like sustenance, shelter, nesting spots, and general comfort. Geese forage for most of their food living off stems, roots, grass, worms, berries, and other parts of wildlife that can be difficult to find during the winter. Because of their ability to fly large distances rather quickly geese migrate in order to find a home that provides the most comfort and resources. These birds are able to fly a great distance in a single day, even well over a thousand miles if the weather conditions allow for it. These birds are fairly unique in this aspect and in some cases can fly from the southern border of the United States to the Canadian border in one day. Geese tend to migrate in flocks and are known for their somewhat iconic V shaped flight pattern filling the skies both earlier and later in the year.

Where Do Geese Fly to?

Geese migration is difficult to miss in most parts of the country as there are over 3.5 million geese living in the United States. They usually migrate in large flocks in their iconic V shaped pattern, and their distinct honking sound can typically be heard from the ground as the geese fly over us. Flight patterns of geese vary between different species of geese with some migrating vast distances from the far north parts of Canada all of the way to the southern border of the United States. There are many different flight paths, but overall they are seeking warmer climates to reside in for the coldest of months.

Reasons for Geese Migration

Why Are They a Problem?

Because geese typically live near ponds, lakes, or other quiet bodies of water, geese fly south for the winter months to trade the freezing temperatures of the north in exchange for bodies of water that are warmer and haven’t frozen over. While Geese tend to return to the same migration locations individual flocks have their own migration patterns. Geese also have unique motivations for migration as some wait until they are forced to by the extreme Canadian temperatures of the north, and other geese migrate willingly. Between finding a safe place body of water to live near, access to more food, and finding a place to have their offspring, migration is a key part of the life of a goose.

Molting Season

Molting season typically occurs once per year for geese and essentially lands them reducing their ability to travel by air. Occurring after their breeding season geese lose their flight feathers for around six weeks in the summertime, and because of this these birds are grounded and forced to walk or swim everywhere they go. Because geese have many wildlife predators they tend to migrate to parts of Canada and the U.S. that offer both protection and plenty of resources. These safe environments typically include a body of water that allows the birds both protection from wildlife land-dwelling predators and gives them the ability to quickly swim away from any dangerous animals. Because molting season occurs after young geese are born the adults need to provide a safe environment to raise them. If a local body of water suddenly is filled with geese later in the summer, which is outside of the normal geese migration pattern, it is likely after breeding and nesting season and the birds are temporarily seeking shelter. Unfortunately these birds can grow quite fond of an area or body of water, especially if it is fairly accommodating to their overall needs, and you may find them returning year-after-year.

Nesting Season

Geese nesting season falls earlier in the year, often beginning around June after their spring migration to the north. After they are done migrating for the season and finding a suitable location for breeding and nesting these birds will begin the process of nesting. Some estimates say that there are over three and a half million Canada geese living in North America, and a majority of those birds will be seeking nesting spots that keep their eggs protected from the wildlife around this time of the year. Once geese find a nesting area they like, such as a pond, public park, nature center, or other suitable location, they may return annually to continue breeding and nesting. In some cases geese return to the same breeding and nesting locations for over a decade making it feel like a permanent fixture of their yearly cycle. Because of this it is important to handle geese infestations quickly as they can continue to get worse over time. While young geese don’t always stay with their parent’s flock forever in some situations they will and these migrating, breeding, and nesting patterns can be passed down from one goose to another.

Returning to the Same Places Annually

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Geese appear to be creatures of habit, often returning to the same migration spots every winter as they seek out a safe place to live that provides enough food for their flock and their inevitable geese offspring. As winter comes to an end geese will return with their flock to their birthplace sometimes even over 3,000 miles away. These animals love returning to their nesting spots every year to begin breeding and have a comfortable home. It is not fully understood how geese understand where to go or how they remember flight paths, but when geese fly south for the winter they have been known to return to their original nesting spots for up to 12 years in a row.

These birds are fairly intelligent and some studies even show signs that a goose may recognize a person they have experiences with even after years of being apart. If geese are living on your property or a property you manage it is likely they will return year after year, especially if there are young geese in their flock which indicates that local breeding and nesting is occurring.

Deterring Geese from Settling on Your Property

There are different methods for deterring geese from choosing your property as their migration destination. To prevent them from nesting on your property or near your body of water we always recommend removing access to food. This includes bird feeders and discouraging humans from feeding them and providing any sort of sustenance.

Utilizing Trained Border Collies

Go Geese Go uses highly trained border collie dogs to cause the geese to think they are being stalked by prey and make them less likely to continue inhabiting the same space. Geese can be quite stubborn, but we have found this method of goose control to be the most effective. Our team works with everyone from private property owners to managers of large corporate sites to continue deterring geese from nesting and causing trouble in the area. For more information on our geese control services please reach out to us today.

Go Geese Go: Geese Control Experts

Go Geese Go is made up of a team of geese control experts. We provide expertise and tips based on our professional experiences working with wild birds and utilize our own resources to scare away the birds without causing any harm to them. To get more information on our services please check out our website or call our office and we can provide you with more information and a consultation on your geese infestation.