Lawrence Woodall argues the Canada Goose is a poor choice for the national bird.

Bird choice is loony

Does Canada Have A National Bird?

Unofficially, Canada’s national bird is the common loon, but the loon has been the official provincial bird of Ontario. Thus, as of May 2010, Canada has been searching for its official national bird.

The scary part of surveys has the Canada Goose leading in some polls. Obviously, those who have voted for the Canada goose based on its honking, graceful “V” flight formations that would put the snowbirds to shame, as well as it being found in all parts of Canada, most likely haven’t had the joy of day-to-day living with them.

The Canada Goose population is exploding, especially in human populated areas where there are few predators. In the wilderness it appears the population is being contained by owls, weasels, raccoons and fox, to name a few. In suburbia dogs are their primary concern, but not much when you consider the Canada Goose is stubborn and aggressive with a flocking mentality, thus a solitary dog may quickly find itself outflanked by a flock of angry, hissing geese. Aggressive and stubborn doesn’t sound like common traits of Canadians.

Doing an informal survey driving around town recently, it was observed that there wasn’t a public green space that didn’t have a number of Canada Geese in the vicinity, a population which is growing annually as it visits the North Island. In time, the residential population will expand, which will lead to conflict both with the natural environment and with humans, especially concerning safety issues at the airports.

Little Qualicum river is just one example of the negative impacts a growing and unchecked residential geese population will have. In the last twenty years a study done by a number of biologists has found eradication of native plants, changes in the landscape and channel flows, and impacts on populations of crustaceans, insects, and worms which ultimately affect other birds and salmon dependant on them. Again, not very Canadian since we are so trying so hard to protect native species and be more environmentally sensitive.

And let’s get our ducks in a row on this issue. The bird was named Canada Goose in the 18th century by a Swede named Carl Linnaeus, who never came to Canada, who probably wanted to give Canada the credit for such a nasty bird, and to give it that foreign flavour in Sweden much the way we view Swedish hockey players in Canada (except, obviously, the Sedins who I believe really are Canadian).

And do we as Canadians really want a bird that literally defecates every five minutes while it’s eating as our national symbol? Using a flock of 1,000 birds as an example, feeding for five hours equals 60,000 green logs, and with more than five million Canada Geese in Canada, you can only imagine.

So for you folks that have many lovely birds decorating your lawn, artificial predators and noise makers will only work for a short period. A pack of dogs isn’t realistic, but the graceful Trumpeter Swan, white like the great white north, will grab the neck of the Canada Goose and hold its head under water until it drowns. The problem is keeping the Trumpeter in the vicinity to prevent residential status. Maybe giving it status as Canada’s national bird will help.

 

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