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The geese among us

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More and more Canada Geese are wintering in Milwaukee. Their unique coloring and V-formation add to the natural environment of the area.

There are now two types of Canadian geese, migratory and resident. The Milwaukee area Canada Geese find homes at the Lake, at the many parks and in the fields around the city. These are the resident geese. They do not remember how to migrate.

The foundation of these flocks was primarily injured animals rescued and released. Fledgling geese that were rescued never learned the migration routes. These birds have adapted quite well to Milwaukee winters.

The migratory geese are not flying as far south as they have in the past because they are finding waste grains further north due to changes in farming. Hunting restrictions and climate changes are also a factor.

These birds mate for life. They begin nesting at two and incubate their eggs for about one month. Fledglings can fly within two months. Adult birds molt in early summer which renders them flightless for about six weeks. During this time, they will seek ponds for protection against predators.

Canada Geese are large birds weighing up to thirty pounds with a wing span to sixty-five inches. They were once plentiful but their declined due to over hunting. Their population is recovering and they are federally protected.

The Milwaukee flocks are doing well. They are watched by the Wisconsin Humane Society and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

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