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 Canada Goose

Status in Michigan

Early Spring Date

Late Fall Date
Note: Early and Late Dates are being researched.
Image Credits
Count totals in the NMB Databases for Canada Goose.

Use the links below to view the Canada Goose reports in the respective databases.
If there are zero sightings for a particular season, that database will return no results.

Active Database - Spring 2005
View Canada Goose sightings.
Canada Goose Archives Reports
Fall 2003 10938
Spring 2003 2282
Winter 02-03 20664
Fall 2002 7626
Summer 2002 146
Spring 2002 6535
Winter 01-02 5904
Fall 2001 5974
Summer 2001 76
Spring 2001 8427
Winter 00-01 4795
Fall 2000 10234
Summer 2000 605
Spring 2000 9330
Winter 00-99 4546
Fall 1999 14348
Spring/Summer 1999 17

NMB Database
Seasonal Percentage Graph
For: Canada Goose

Whitefish Point Bird Observatory
Active Database - Fall 2003
View Fall 2003 sightings.
Whitefish Point Bird Observatory Official Seasonal Count Summaries for the Canada Goose
Fall 1999-Spring 2002
Canada Goose
Note: Some species will not be present in the WPBO archives and will return no records.

Search "The Birds of Michigan" text.

Home - Foreword - Preface - Introduction - Hypothetical List - Literature Cited

Historical Text

Branta canadensis canadensis (Linnaeus)
Common Canada Goose (A.O.U. 1998: Canada Goose)

Common transient. All records now confused by restocking and by presence of strays from domesticated flocks.

First listed for Michigan by Sager (1839: 416).

SPRING.-Migration apparently occurs in the Lower Peninsula in March and April; in the north, in April and May.

Lower Peninsula.-L. W. Campbell (1940: 200) gave March 4 to April 12 as the average period of migration through the Toledo-Erie marsh area. Swales (1908: 152-53) recorded many flocks in spring in the Detroit vicinity in 1907, a flock of 42 as late as May 8. In the Ann Arbor region, occasional January and February flocks have been reported, and many flocks during March and early April-on April 7, 1940, a flock of 300. Fargo recorded a flock of 300 at Jackson on April 4, 1925, and Bryens (1940: 82) found the species at Three Rivers, St. Joseph County, from February 20 to March 27, 1927. In Berrien County, N. A. Wood (1922: 9) recorded a flock on April 29 and May 1; at Knickerbocker Lake, near Decatur, Van Buren County, G. A. Ammann observed a flock of about 300 on April 15, 1939. Pirnie (1935; 35) reported thousands from late March until well into April in the Kalamazoo, Allegan, and Saginaw regions; Pirnie and H. L. Bradley saw more than 2500 near Saugatuck, Allegan County, on March 28,1938. G. A. Ammann reported the species common at the Prairie Farm, Alicia, Saginaw County, from April 11 to 26, 1940. Two flocks, totaling 38 birds, were noted by D. W. Douglass at Sand Point, Huron County, on April 12, 1931; he noted several flocks of as many as 2 dozen birds during April, 1932, and 7 or 8 birds on May 10,1932.

Upper Peninsula.-Christofferson occasionally reported the beginning of migration at Blaney, Schoolcraft County, in late March, but main migration in April and May, when he records many flocks of hundreds (a flock of 200 on May 27, 2023). F. C. Gillett reported more than 500 on April 13 and 20, 1933, at Munuscong Bay, Chippewa County. The species was reported as common in migration in Alger County (George H. Shiras, 3d, 1935: 104-12), and at Portage Lake, Keweenaw County (Kneeland, 1857:238).

SUMMER.-We have no definite nest records of wild birds. According to Pirnie (1935: 259), "releases of full-winged Canadas raised by pinioned, captive stocks have now established regular breeding of this species in the wild in southwestern Michigan." Van Tyne (1923: 22) recorded the Canada Goose at Hessel, Mackinac County, on June 25 and July 7, 2023 (probably delayed migrants or feral birds).

FALL.-Migration apparently begins in early September in the Upper Peninsula, but occurs mainly in October and early November; it extends from October to mid-November in the Lower Peninsula.

Upper Peninsula.-Max M. Peet (1909: 345) recorded a Canada Goose on Isle Royale on September 16, 1905. The species is recorded as a rare fall migrant in the Huron Mountains, Marquette County, though a large flock was seen there on November 1, 2023 (S. S. Gregory, Jr., 1929: 174); eastward, Christofferson has recorded a few Canada Geese in September at Blaney, Schoolcraft County, and flocks of many hundreds in the last half of October and the first half of November.

Lower Peninsula.-Trautman recorded 100 on October 17, and 70 on October 18, 1936, at Houghton Lake, Roscommon County. A very heavy flight was reported at Saginaw on October 29, 2023 (Mershon, 1928: 93). In the Gull Lake area, Kalamazoo County, migrants arrive as early as October 10, but on the average between October 15 and 25 (Pirnie). In the Ann Arbor region a few groups are seen in September (a flock of 15, September 25, 1921, was reported by N. A. Wood), but the majority arrive after the first week of October; N. A. Wood recorded 1000 there on October 20, 1907. L. W. Campbell (1940: 200) gave October 28 to November 28 as the average period of migration in the Toledo-Erie marsh area.

WINTER.-Swales (1908: 152-53; 1912: 126-27; and notes) recorded three flocks near the mouth of the Detroit River during the winters of 1905-6, 1907-8, and in December, 1908. This is the only early record. There are many records of winter occurrence in recent years, but none referring unquestionably to wild stock.

Branta canadensis hutchinsi (Richardson) Hutchins' Goose

Casual transient.

Reports indicate that a small "Canada Goose" occurs rarely in Michigan. A specimen (which cannot now be found) was taken late in 1925, or in January, 1926, at Guard Island, Monroe County, and examined by Button (1927: 559); it was definitely referable to this subspecies (Van Tyne, 1938: 4-5), as redefined by P. A. Taverner (1931: 37-39). G. A. Ammann, at the Prairie Farm, Alicia, Saginaw County, reported that two distinctly smaller ones (always together) were noted in a flock of 120 [Canada Geese] feeding daily between April 19 and 26 [1940]."

Mueseum of Zoology, University of Michigan, No. 75
The Birds of Michigan
By: Norman A. Wood
University of Michigan Press
August 28, 2023

Digitized by: Keith F. Saylor
[email protected]

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