Nesting Canada Geese

To find the geese, you must look for water. This pretty site is at the tree farm. My friend created this lake quite awhile ago.

To find the nests, you must look for an island in the water. So in a row-boat we go.

Look, here a Canada Goose comes now.

A couple more.

Now we have a flock. They are pretty much all over the place.

Bingo…. a nest. This one is located along the shore. It makes for an easy escape route for Mom and Dad. Nesting sites are usually located along shorelines, in dense brush or elevated on an island at the top of small hills. All three I have photographed.

And another finely constructed nest. The eggs are incubated for 28 days, and most hatch in early May. One egg is laid each day for a total of 2 to 12 eggs. Five is the average.

A clutch of eggs and the next generation.  Notice the down? The geese pull their own breast feathers to line the nest. It insulates the eggs from the cold ground. Speaking of feathers, the geese will start the molt after the nesting season. This occurs in later June and early July. The resident geese gather in open areas and remain flightless until the flight feathers grow back.

The male is guarding his nesting mate, probably from me at this moment. The female will not eat, drink or bathe during the incubation, as feces will attract predators or may cause bacterial growth.

The female is on alert. It is difficult to focus because she has a nesting site in dense brush. The other nests are closer to the shore but the geese vacated upon our pulling the row-boat to shore.

They are flying toward the boat and presumably trying to make sure we row away. I really had the wrong camera in my hand. I needed the 300 lens. This was my first time taking photos from a boat. Next time I hope to have better images. My friend gave me shooting instructions. He is an expert hunter and the same rules apply whether I am holding a shotgun or a camera as far as the animals are concerned. I learned a lot today, but after I scared them all away.

He showed me how to sit and raise my camera slowly, and only make movements when the ‘prey’ looks away. Then freeze again until they are comfortable that I mean no harm. There are a lot of tricks that hunters use and if I learn a few, I will be a better wildlife photographer.

Cabin by the lake

My friend is going to set up a blind for me to shoot turkeys. Remember how hard I said that was? Well, he told me turkey run at any movement and so they are more difficult to shoot. So it was not me per say, if a twig moves they bolt.

If I get up early, before dawn that is, and climb up in the blind and just wait, the turkeys will visit the field every morning. I am excited about this, but am hoping my exuberance does not get the best of me. If I follow his instructions, I will get some closeup shots. If I scare them just once , they will not be back all day.

I learned too that turkey nests can not be approached two times, or the turkeys do not return. The geese I showed today will, but not turkeys. So this summer, when the turkeys hatch, I will be sure to keep away. The poults will be so cute to see with Mom. That is the image I have been dying to get. And I hope to get images of the hatchlings of the Canada Geese soon. It will be an adventure. Plus, by then, you will be seeing all the native plants growing on the farm. I do enjoy the native landscape, not being able to have one myself. I hope to document the plants on which the geese feed.

All images were shot at Erway Farms. Erway Farms also has Erway’s Christmas Tree Adventure if you remember me working there this winter. My friend operates his landscaping business, nursery and tree farm from Erway Farms. If you are a hunter, they have Buckeye Scents, selling a product every deer hunter needs.


About Garden Walk Garden Talk

I love to photograph, paint, draw, design, garden, travel the world, and pass on a few tips and ideas that I learned through experience as a Master Gardener and architect. I am highly trained in my field and enjoy my work each and every day. I garden in Niagara Falls, NY in zone 6-B. Find me at:
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26 Responses to Nesting Canada Geese

  1. Catherine says:

    I love this time of yea when the birds start nesting, even better is when the geese and ducks are followed by their babies. We get a lot of Canada Geese around here and it seems every year they choose to cross a busy road and all the cars stop to let the little family go by.
    What a beautiful lake and cabin? How did he create it?

    • He ‘mines’ topsoil from this area. It is rich sandy soil great for growing just about anything. Years of digging the soil out created the lake. I have watched it grow over the years. The cabin was completed last year. I will get more photos when I drive out in my Jeep and can take my time photographing. The dirt road should dry by the time the babies hatch. The area is too muddy now and I would rut it up if I drive out now. We came out in a 4-wheeler. I have photos of it in the Christmas Tree site.

  2. Beautiful photos, Donna.
    So neat to see right into their soft, downy nest.


  3. b-a-g says:

    Thanks for giving us this insight to the private lives of geese. I’ve never seen a goose nest even when watching nature programs on TV. Looking forward to the turkey post.

  4. Aerie-el says:

    We have some silly geese who want to nest on our shoreline again. The last time they did, a raccoon ate all the eggs. It broke my heart to hear the geese in such agony after finding the nest raided. We try to keep them off the yard now so they won’t be tempted to nest here.
    I had no idea about the turkeys and their nesting habits.
    Thanks for sharing the info, and all the pictures.

  5. One says:

    This must be such an exciting and beautiful experience. I’m glad you are sharing this. I imagine myself swaying in the boat, being very still whenever possible to get some good shots…

    Rabbits do the same thing, tearing out its own fur for its babies.

    The first photo is really beautiful. GGW?

  6. Fabulous images Donna, how magical to capture them flying at you and stirring up the water like that. And I love the lake – I adore pottering about on the water, I would be in heaven to have something like that so close. Look forward to seeing the results of your Turkey shoot!

  7. Karen says:

    Donna, the geese photos are amazing. Taking pictures from a rowboat can’t be easy. I’ve tried from a canoe and the results weren’t very good (plus I was constantly worried the camera would fall overboard).

    Will the geese become more protective after their family hatches out? I can only imagine how aggressive they could be, I know what domestic geese can be like. We have turkeys in abundance here in our gardens (last year I counted 32) and yes, they are very wary of people. It’s amazing how they can just ‘melt’ into the woodwork and disappear. I look forward to seeing your next installments!

  8. p3chandan says:

    Great looking sceneries! Cant believe its a man-made lake…so lovely with the woods surrounding it, just the perfect place for winged creatures like geese! Splendid photos as usual Donna!

  9. Shannon says:

    Great post and beautiful photos! It’s so nice to get a glimpse into the life of these beautiful geese. Here in NJ they’re considered a nuisance and most places have sprinkler systems, controlled hunting and other plans to keep them away. It’s good to remember that they are native wildlife and are a treasure to be celebrated and enjoyed!

  10. dona says:

    Lovely photos: I loved the soft nest ones. Great job, Donna!

  11. lovely photos Donna thanks for sharing, it must have been a wonderful experience,
    I can’t remember his name but there is a british wild bird photographer who has filled his large garden with hides to hide in to take photos and it is planted to attract the birds and give a suitable coloured backgroung which is blurred in his photos, Frances

  12. Very educational post. I learned a lot about the Canada Geese and your photos are great! I am looking forward to your turkey photos. I see the wild turkeys along side the road occasionally and I never have my camera along. I would love to get some photographs of them.

  13. Alistair says:

    Fantastic place to spend a few days Donna, I have often seen Canada geese in Scotland, must be resident I can hardly imagine they would migrate from such a distance. Your camera work looks pretty good to me.

  14. gardeningasylum says:

    Oh my goodness, what a wonderful adventure, beautifully told in words and great photos. So special to be out there with a guide who can show you all the secret places…

  15. Carolyn♥ says:

    So nice, Donna. Love it!

  16. lula says:

    It’s so beautiful to see the landscape and nature at its best! You certainly have enjoyesd it! Thanks for sharing, Lula

  17. Great shots! There is a restaurant on a farm about an hour from where we live. They have a pond with an island…and last April we visited and walked around and saw the geese nesting on the island. This reminded me so much of that experience.

  18. Diane says:

    Great photos, Donna! I grew up in New England so Canadian geese were a big part of my life then as they migrated through Southeastern Massachusetts. It was good to see pictures of them again. I picked up a few pointers about photographing wildlife just from your post. I love to try to capture the birds in my backyard but it can be difficult. I learned a few tips from you this morning 🙂 Thanks!

  19. Makes sense that wildlife photography is a lot like hunting. I think there was a Northern Exposure episode about that once.

  20. Gail says:

    That was a fun trip~I’ve seen plenty of Canada Geese in our local park but never have seen their nests. Sometimes I wish I had a blind to hide behind to get good closeups of the birds that visit my garden. gail

  21. lifeshighway says:

    I have never seen a goose nest. They look very comfortable and warm. Thanks for sharing a little peace of wildlife habitat.

  22. Oh, those goose nests look all warm and cozy with their feather lining! What a fun find! If you need practice ‘shooting’ turkeys to hone your wildlife photography skills, our Wild Tom that’s been stalking Jenny spent half the afternoon standing on TOP of the turkey pen! 😛 He makes for an easy shot…with a camera of course.

  23. Masha says:

    Beautiful pictures, and I loved seeing the nest. Thanks for a lovely story, too.

  24. Les says:

    I don’t deny their grace and beauty, and not to be an ugly American, but I wish more Canada Geese would stay in Canada. They have achieved nuisance status here, but I guess any animal that can adapt and thrive in the world humans are creating should get some points. The latest trend is to train Border Collies to chase them off for several weeks until it registers with the geese that this is a no-go zone. After the dogs are gone, a black and white plywood Collie-silhouette is anchored on the lawn and rotated every so often to keep the geese from returning. I am not sure how successful this program is.

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