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College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences


Smart Stuff with Twig Walkingstick: When, Why Geese Act Crazy (for the Week of May 13, 2007)

May 4, 2007

Q. Dear Twig: Why do some Canada geese act so crazy?

A. You mean like honking at you? Hissing at you? Maybe even chasing you and trying to bite you or whack you with its wings?

That is crazy.

Or so it might seem to you and me.

But to the Canada goose it makes sense. The goose wants to keep its eggs, its mate and its territory (where it nests, gets food or both) safe. If you get too close - say, you go near a pond in a park - the goose gets scared and mad. It thinks you're after its family and home. (Even though you're not.) So it tries to get you to go away. It honks. It hisses. It sticks its long neck out. It might even run or fly at you. Duck! Try not to let this happen.

Instead, look the goose in the eye. Don't turn your back to it. Then simply just back away slowly. You don't want a big, angry goose in your face, all bitey and flappy and tooting goose swear words! Me, I back off when a goose starts to toot.

The craziness ends after nesting.


P.S. It's not just Canada geese that may do this. Farm geese and other geese may do it too.

Notes: In Ohio, Canada geese nest from about March through June, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR). As you've probably seen, more and more Canada geese now nest in parks, golf courses, apartment areas, etc. This ups the chances of having problems between people and nest-guarding geese. What to do? For starters, read OSU Extension's "Nuisance Canada Geese: How to Deal With the Problem," Also try "Canada Goose Conflicts" by the ODNR Division of Wildlife. Canada geese are protected by the Federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

About this column: "Smart Stuff with Twig Walkingstick," a free public service of The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences - specifically, of the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC) and Ohio State University Extension, both part of the College - is a weekly column for children about science, nature, farming and the environment. The reading level typically rates at grades 3.5-4.5. For details, to ask Twig a question, and/or to receive the column free by mail or e-mail, contact Kurt Knebusch, CommTech, OSU/OARDC,1680 Madison Ave., Wooster, OH 44691,, (330) 263-3776. Online at

Kurt Knebusch