7 things Canadians have in common with Canada geese
You may have seen those iconic Vs soaring overhead lately, or heard those obnoxious squawks from the skies as hoards of Canada geese make their springtime return to their homeland. But despite being a sure sign summer is well on its way, our classic Canadian feathered friends have ended up with a bit of a negative reputation. Sure, they like to poop in parks, and they can get a bit territorial when it comes to their favourite parking lots, but when you really get to know our country’s namesake birds, you start to realize that maybe we have a lot more in common with them than you thought, and maybe they’re actually our long-lost best friends.
1. They have few natural predators
Welcome to the top of the food chain, friends. This isn’t to say that Canada geese have no natural predators, but thanks to a deeply-ingrained tendency to yell at anyone who gets too close (I relate), they’ve managed to turn off the Great White North’s top predators pretty effectively, including humans. Their eggs are still sometimes snatched up by birds and smaller animals, but throw an adult Canada goose and a coyote in a ring together and the coyote will probably end up with a face full of goose wing, a few beak shots to the eyes and an earful of squawks. Even a coyote knows it ain’t worth it.
2. They love a good park hang in the summer
This is one of my favourite pastimes and a top shared interest I look for in every new friend. Head to any wide open green space in Canada in the summer and you’re bound to run into a new goose friend or two or twelve or forty, every single one of them totally down for lazing the day away in the sun. The only downside is that they tend to focus all of their energy exclusively on pooping literally everywhere. Friendship is about compromise, though.
3. They long for a bit of warmth in the winter
Any smart Canadian human knows a trip down south in the winter can be a much-needed Vitamin-D-enriched lifesaver. Canada geese have taken this to the next level, and they boot it southward the second the leaves start falling up north and don’t even think about home until they’ve got clear assurances that the snow is definitely melting (which they’ve fine-tuned into a biological instinct). There’s actually a German word for this migratory instinct (because of course there is): zugunruhe. You know that restless feeling you get when the weather changes, or life feels a bit off, when every cell in your body is telling you to just get up and go somewhere? Yeah, our goose pals get that, too—bigtime.
4. Some of them have taken up permanent residence in Florida
The only creature that has made such a well-informed and intelligent life decision is about 35% of all Canadian human grandparents. Just because you’re Canadian by birth doesn’t mean you can’t make a pastel-colored retirement community your home for life, and honestly, come yet another blizzard in March, I don’t know why more of us don’t. Some smaller populations of Canada geese have managed to turn off their zugunruhe and have parked themselves permanently in places like Florida and San Francisco, especially if there’s a manmade pond involved. Um, yes please.
5. They share the driving on long road trips
Canada geese travel in groups, opting for the infamous flying V pattern (not actually invented by Emilio Estevez, but dear to his heart, I’m sure). Just like how we humans swap out drivers on a road trip to the Rockies or the Maritimes with friends, Canada geese trade out the primo head-of-the-V spot on their journeys north and south each year, like real friends do. El Capitan probably gets to pick the playlist, too (just a bunch of yelling in their case).
5. They’re monogamous
A rarity in the animal (and avian) kingdom and yet another special connection we have to our grass-destroying, long-necked national treasure friends. Like most humans (outside of university campuses and some hostels), Canada geese find their one-true and/or good-enough love and stick with them for the long-haul, no vows needed. If you ask me, there’s a good chance that all that honking they do in the sky is actually them yelling compliments and sweet nothings to one another. Super romantic when you think about it.
7. They nest where their parents nest
Parents of Millennials are relating so hard to this right now. While Canada goslings (not the Ryan variety) hatch ready to swim, walk and find their own food, they stick close to ma and pa until their first spring migration. And even then, they usually return to the same spots year after year, and while they’ll eventually find their own mate and raise their own kids, for about the first four years (which is like 30 goose years) they’re basically living in mom and dad’s basement.
See? We're basically best friends.