Canada geese in the Atlantic Flyway

Edited by: Edward T. LaRoeGaye S. FarrisCatherine E. PuckettPeter D. Doran, and Michael J. Mac



Large changes have occurred in the geographic wintering distribution and subspecies composition of the Atlantic Flyway population of Canada geese (Branta canadensis) over the last 40 years. The Atlantic Flyway can be thought of as being partitioned into four regions: South, Chesapeake, mid-Atlantic, and New England. Wintering numbers have declined in the southern states (North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida), increased then decreased in the Chesapeake region (Delaware, Maryland, Virginia), and increased markedly in the mid-Atlantic region (New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, West Virginia) (Serie 1993; Fig. 1). In the New England region (Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut), wintering numbers increased from around 6,000 during 1948-50 to between 20,000 and 30,000 today (Serie 1993).

Overall, the total number of wintering geese reaching a peak of 955,000 in 1981 and has since declined 40% to 569,000 in 1993. Compounding these distributional changes in wintering numbers, the subspecies composition has also changed. The Canada goose population is composed of migrant geese (primarily B.c. canadensis and B.c. interior) that breed in the subarctic regions of Canada and resident geese (primarily B.c. maxima and B.c. moffitti) that breed in southern Canada and the United States (Stotts 1983). The number of resident geese in Maine to Virginia has increased considerable from maybe 50,000 to 100,000 in 1981 (Conover and Chasko 1985) to an average of 560,000 in 1992-93 (H. Heusman, Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, personal communication). This rapid increase in resident geese suggests that the migrant population has declined more than the 40% decline observed in total wintering geese from 1981 to 1993.

Publication type Book chapter
Publication Subtype Book Chapter
Title Canada geese in the Atlantic Flyway
Year Published 1995
Language English
Publisher National Biological Service
Publisher location Washington, D.C.
Description 3 p.
Larger Work Type Book
Larger Work Subtype Monograph
Larger Work Title Our living resources: A report to the nation on the distribution, abundance, and health of U.S. plants, animals, and ecosystems
First page 28
Last page 30
Country United States
Other Geospatial Atlantic Flyway
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
Additional publication details