Canadian goose notes

Credit for the information below goes to:
Canada Goose - Branta canadensis
Life Cycle
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Anseriformes
Family: Anatidae
Genus: Branta
The Canada goose has
a long black neck and
head with a white
band on its cheeks
that runs under its
chin like a strap. It has
black feet and a light
tan body with lighter
brown or white under
its tail. Its black bill has
lamellae, or teeth,
around the outside
edges that are used as
a cutting tool. Males and females look alike, although
females are usually a little smaller than the males.
The Canada goose breeds and winters in most of Canada
and the United States.
The Canada goose can be found in a wide variety of
habitats including lakes, bays, rivers and marshes. It
often feeds in open fields and grasslands.
On land, the Canada
goose eats a wide
variety of grasses,
including salt grass
and Bermuda grass. It
uses its bill to yank
the grass out of the
ground. It also eats
corn, rice and wheat. In the water, the Canada goose
sticks its head and upper body under the water,
stretches its neck out and uses its bill to scoop up food
from the mud and silt.
Life Cycle
The female Canada
goose lays her eggs
between March and
June. She will lay
between four to ten
whitish eggs in a nest
made of grass, reeds
and moss and lined
with down. The nests
are usually on the
ground near water.
The female hatches
the eggs and turns
them over often to
evenly heat them.
The male will guard the female and the nest and will call
out a warning if danger approaches. It takes about a
month for the eggs to hatch. The chicks break out of the
shell with an egg tooth on the top of their bills. It may
take them one to two days to completely break out of
the shell. The chicks will fly when they are between 40
and 70 days old. Most Canada geese will mate for life.
Canada geese migrate in large V-shaped formations.
They honk loudly while they are flying. They migrate at a
slow pace. Male Canada geese can be very aggressive
they will often attack predators with their wings and bill.
Bird Adaptations for Flight –
Skeletal Adaptations
The skeletons of birds are much different than the skeletons of other
vertebrates because it must support the ability to fly. Many bones are fused
together and others that are common in other vertebrate skeletons have been
removed from the bird skeleton to make it more efficient for flying. Many of
the remaining bones, such as those in the wings, have been pneumatized, or
hollowed out. There are internal supports within these bones to prevent them
from collapsing. Many people believe that the skeletons weigh less relative to
their bodies than in other vertebrates. This idea is false. Although some
bones are pneumatized, flight places new burdens on a bird’s skeleton. For
example, the leg bones and the sternum (which the wing bones are connected
to) need to be especially sturdy and are stronger than in other
vertebrates. Instead of having a very light skeleton as many believe, birds
have lightened and strengthened different bones to adapt the bird for flight.
Respiratory Adaptations
Because flying is a much more strenuous physical activity than
anything that other animals do birds have a much more efficient respiratory
system. A very important adaptation to the avian respiratory system is the air
sacs that allow birds to have a one-way respiratory tract that maximizes
oxygen intake. When birds inhale, air enters the posterior air sac. Upon
exhalation, it enters the lungs, where an extremely efficient exchange of
oxygen and carbon dioxide occurs. Upon a second inhalation, the air from the
lungs enters the anterior air sac, the lungs shrink, and more air enters the
posterior air sac. With the second exhalation, the air from the anterior air sacs
exits the body and air enters the lungs again. This system allows birds to
empty their lungs between breaths more than other vertebrates. This causes
more gas exchange with fresh, oxygen-rich air, increasing the birds total
oxygen intake.
Circulatory Adaptations
The circulatory system of birds consists of a four-chambered heart
with two separate sides. One side receives oxygen-poor blood from the body
and pumps it into the lungs. The other side receives oxygen-rich blood from
the lungs and pumps it through the body. This circulatory system never
allows oxygen-poor and oxygen-rich blood to mix, creating an efficient system
of gas exchange. This system prepares a bird for flight.
Reproductive Adaptations
Birds’ reproductive organs are small for the greater part of the year to
decrease the birds’ weight for flight. Only during mating season do
reproductive organs reach functional size.
Muscular Adaptations
The flight muscles of most birds are red because they have many
oxygen-transporting substances within them. Flight muscles also receive a
large amount of oxygenated blood. These adaptations allow flight muscles to
receive the maximum amount of oxygen so they can perform cellular
respiration and generate energy for flight.
Nervous Adaptations
Birds have extremely developed brains that allow them to transmit
nerve impulses extremely quickly throughout the body. They have keen
senses of sight and hearing. These adaptations allow birds to process
information and react accordingly during flight. Speedy reaction time allows
bird to fly quickly and alertly. They can avoid obstacles and potential
predators quickly because of their nervous systems.