Many people mistakenly call the familiar brown, black and white birds “Canadian geese”, but officially they are known as Canada geese.
Whatever you call them, they can be hostile to humans, especially in the springtime when both male and females protect their nests that contain newly-laid eggs.
Canada geese are likely to build nests near any body of water — even in densely populated urban areas — including retention ponds, lakes and other non-flowing waters near businesses, homes, and public parks. They prefer to build their nests in cattail and bulrush marshes, at the bases of trees, at the tops of muskrat lodges or haystacks, or in the unoccupied nests of other birds such as herons, osprey, and eagles.
In some instances, Canada geese will build their nests in planter boxes or other nesting structures.
When Animals Attack
Humans that approach the nests protected by Canada geese are likely to be chased away. In some cases, the birds will attack humans, biting at them with their sharp beaks while flapping their strong wings, which can have wingspans of up to 6 feet.
The best defense for a Canada goose attack is to avoid them altogether. Stay away from geese, especially in the springtime when they are near bodies of water. During nesting season, geese will become extremely protective and exhibit aggressive behavior, according to wildlife experts.
Most people are attacked when they accidentally come upon a family of Canada geese.
If you find yourself being attacked by a goose, experts recommend the following tactics:
- Staring Contest — Geese have excellent eyesight and can tell when you are staring at them and how you are reacting to their aggression. They can tell by your body language if you are a threat. Don’t close or squint your eyes or turn your back on an attacking goose. Instead, stare them down.
- Slowly Back Away — Remove yourself from the conflict by slowly backing away. But don’t turn your back on the geese or they are likely to chase you.
- Keep Your Cool — Remain neutral in your demeanor. Don’t hit, kick or swat at the geese because this will only agitate them even more. It could even cause other geese in the area to join in the fight. When you remain neutral, you can neutralize the threat.
- The 90 Degree Rule — If a goose flies towards your face, duck or move away at a 90-degree angle to the direction of the flight. Geese can’t easily change direction in mid-flight, so making a right-angle turn will get you out of harm’s way. Remember to keep facing the attacking goose.
Keeping Geese Away
Keeping geese away from public areas can be challenging. Geese adapt quickly when they learn scare devices like balloons or scarecrows pose no real danger. They will ignore these devices.
Canada geese are neophobic, which means they are afraid of objects they don’t recognize. So using multiple scare objects and harassment tactics and changing them up frequently is often the best defense to nesting geese.