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Discover Nature: Canada Goose Nesting

Two adult Canada geese guard their nest bearing three hatched goslings on a grassy pond bank.
Canada geese begin nesting this week in Missouri. For nearly a month, adults lose the ability to fly and devotedly guard their nests on the ground.

This week on Discover Nature, as we all hunker down and do our best to stay home, a reminder that we’re not alone: Missouri’s Canada geese are starting to guard nests.

One of our state’s best-known waterfowl species, Canada geese are common, year-round residents in Missouri. 

In late winter, migratory populations begin returning to the area, signaling the imminent changing of seasons. By early spring, pairs begin nesting in open cups of dried grasses and other vegetation on the ground near bodies of water. 

Geese lay clutches of 3–8 eggs in feather-lined nests, which they will incubate and protect for nearly a month. Adults lose their flight feathers and cannot fly during this incubation period. 

Within a few days of hatching, young goslings will leave the nest, walk, and swim. 

In these uncertain times, observing the habits of grounded geese guarding their nests, offers a reminder to practice patience while guarding our own — and hope, for a future return to flight and freedom.  

Learn more about Canada geese with the Missouri Department of Conservation’s online field guide

Discover Nature is sponsored by the Missouri Department of Conservation.

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