Spring Migratory Pathways and Migration Chronology of Canada Geese (Branta canadensis interior) Wintering at the Santee National Wildlife Refuge, South Carolina

Molly M. Giles, Patrick G. R. Jodice, Robert F. Baldwin, John D. Stanton, Marc Epstein


We assessed the migratory pathways, migration chronology, and breeding ground affiliation of Canada Geese (Branta canadensis interior) that winter in and adjacent to the Santee National Wildlife Refuge in Summerton, South Carolina, United States. Satellite transmitters were fitted to eight Canada Geese at Santee National Wildlife Refuge during the winter of 2009–2010. Canada Geese departed Santee National Wildlife Refuge between 5 and 7 March 2010. Six Canada Geese followed a route that included stopovers in northeastern North Carolina and western New York, with three of those birds completing spring migration to breeding grounds associated with the Atlantic Population (AP). The mean distance between stopover sites along this route was 417 km, the mean total migration distance was 2838 km, and the Canada Geese arrived on AP breeding grounds on the eastern shore of Hudson Bay between 20 and 24 May 2010. Two Canada Geese followed a different route from that described above, with stopovers in northeastern Ohio, prior to arriving on the breeding grounds on 9 June 2010. Mean distance between stopover sites was 402 and 365 km for these two birds, and total migration distance was 4020 and 3650 km. These data represent the first efforts to track migratory Canada Geese from the southernmost extent of their current wintering range in the Atlantic Flyway. We did not track any Canada Geese to breeding grounds associated with the Southern James Bay Population. Caution should be used in the interpretation of this finding, however, because of the small sample size. We demonstrated that migratory Canada Geese wintering in South Carolina use at least two migratory pathways and that an affiliation with the Atlantic Population breeding ground exists.


migration; Canada Geese; Branta canadensis interior; satellite telemetry; Atlantic Population; Southern James Bay Population; staging areas; stopover sites; Atlantic Flyway; wintering ecology; South Carolina; Quebec; Ontario

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.22621/cfn.v127i1.1402

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