Branta canadensis | Canada Goose | Gé Cheanadach
Third Schedule listed species under Regulations 49 & 50 in the European Communities (Birds and Natural Habitats) Regulations 2011. (Note: Regulation 50 not yet enacted). Listed as a schedule 9 species under Articles 15 & 15A of the Wildlife Order (Northern Ireland) 1985 (Article 15A not yet enacted).
First reported in the wild
Invasive species - risk of High Impact
Introduction pathways - 1
Release in Nature
Introduction pathways subclass - 1
NAPRA Ireland risk assessed
Large wild waterfowl, larger than a mallard with a greyish body, black head and neck with a distinctive white patch on the face behind the eyes. Potentially confused with the Barnacle goose (Branta leucopsis), which have an all white face and the two species of brent goose the dark-bellied (Branta bernicla bernicla) light-bellied (Branta bernicla hrota), which have a less conspicuous white mark on the neck.
Considered a significant pest on agricultural land, damaging crops such as cereals, oilseed rape and sugar beet, contribute to eutrophication of the waters (enrichment with nutrients that can upset ecosystems) where they occur and compete with native waterfowl for food and nesting sites (Watola et al., 1996).
Inland surface waters; Mires, bogs & fen; Grasslands and landscapes dominated by forbs, mosses or lichens; Regularly or recently cultivated agricultural, horticultural or domestic habitat; Constructed, industrial or other artificial habitats
Begin breeding at year 2 but most success increases significantly after year 4, with average brood sizes of 3.7 young for 4+ age individuals in their native range (Raveling, 1981).
Pathway and vector description
Initially introduced into the UK in captivity before 1665, there is no exact record of the first introduction into Ireland but it is thought to be at the beginning of the 19th century (Lever, 2009). Introduced as ornamental birds in the grounds of estates they subsequently spread to the wider countryside. Additionally secondary introductions from the United Kingdom are likely, where there is a population of ~90,000 Canadian geese (Austin et al., 2007).
Mechanism of impact
Competition, Disease transmission, Grazing/Herbivory/Browsing
Found in lawns and gardens, agricultural land and inland water way. Particularly common in urban and sub-urban parks in the United Kingdom, may expand to these areas in the future in Ireland (Austin et al., 2007).
Established - Widespread. Scattered population thought to consist of approximately 1000 individuals, with the majority of the population occurring at 8 breeding sites in Co Cavan and Co Fermanagh (Lever, 2009).
Native to North America where a number of different sub species exist, it has been domesticated and introduced into Europe, including Ireland, Britain, Scandinavia, Germany, France and Austria, and New Zealand (Birdlife International, 2012).
Date of first record category
Records submitted to Data Centre in 2023
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How can you help
Report any sightings to the National Biodiversity Data Centre. Avoid feeding Canadian geese where they occur as this can exacerbate eutrophication of lakes and rivers.
The Delivering Alien Invasive Species In Europe (DAISIE) project list the Canadian goose as one of the 100 Worst Invaders in Europe.
Austin, G. E., Rehfisch, M. M., Allan, J. R., & Holloway, S. J. (2007). Population size and differential population growth of introduced Greater Canada Geese Branta canadensis and re-established Greylag Geese Anser anser across habitats in Great Britain in the year 2000. Bird Study, 54(3), 343-352.
Lever, C. (2009) The Naturalized Animals of Britain and Ireland. New Holland Publishers, London, UK.
Ravling, D.G. (1981) Survival, Experience, and Age in Relation to Breeding Success of Canada Geese. The Journal of Wildlife Management 45(4):817-829.
Watola, G., Allan, J., & Feare, C. (1996). Problems and management of naturalised introduced Canada Geese Branta canadensis in Britain. In: . The introduction and naturisation of birds, Holmes, J.S. & Simons, J.R. (eds). 71-78. London, HMSO. BirdLife International (2012). Branta canadensis. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2012.
IUCN Red List of Threatened Species
Global Invasive Species Database Information sheet