Canada Geese

Canada Geese

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42" x 50" unframed

© SHELLEY HESSE 2020

watercolor, gouache, pencil, ink, and pastel on paper 


Canada Geese (Branta canadensis) are large, migratory waterfowl native to North America, although they have occasionally reached Northern Europe by flying. They have of course been introduced to many other locations around the globe. The Canada Goose in the largest goose in the world. Most weigh between 5 and 14 pounds, with females being slightly smaller than the males. They live 10 to 25 years on average in the wild, although some may live as old as 30. The male is referred to as the gander and the female as the goose. The male’s head and neck are slightly larger than the female’s, as the male will defend the female and baby geese with everything he has. They have been known to fight Bald Eagles and even elk to protect their female and young. The males are the ones who honk, while the females make a “hink” sound.

Canada Geese mate for life and will begin searching for a mate between 2 and 3 years of age. If a mate dies, the goose will try to find another mating partner. They migrate in order to return to the area where they were born for mating and nesting. Baby geese, known as goslings, are lead to water by their parents less than 24 hours after they are born and are able to dive 30 to 40 feet underwater by the time they are only 1 day old. As they become more independent of their parents, groups of goslings may join together to form “gang broods” of up to 100 goslings. They learn to fly between 2 and 3 months of age. Once a year, typically during warm weather, geese will molt their feathers and will be unable to fly for about 6 weeks. During this time they will stay very close to water in order to have a way to escape predators on land.

Canada Geese were once in decline due to destruction of habitat and over hunting, but their numbers have thankfully rebounded considerably. This painting was commissioned by one of the most romantic, lovely couples I have ever come across. I wish them a lifetime of happiness together, just like their beloved Canada Geese.

“...Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting—
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.”

- Mary Oliver