Nesting Biology of Lesser Canada Geese, Branta canadensis parvipes, along the Tanana River, Alaska

Craig R. Ely, John M. Pearce, Roger W. Ruess


Lesser Canada Geese (Branta canadensis parvipes) are widespread throughout interior regions of Alaska and Canada, yet there have been no published studies documenting basic aspects of their nesting biology. We conducted a study to determine reproductive parameters of Lesser Canada Geese nesting along the Tanana River near the city of Fairbanks, in interior Alaska. Fieldwork was conducted in May of 2003, and consisted of locating nests along the riparian corridor between Fairbanks and Northpole, Alaska. Nests were found on gravel islands and shore habitats along the Tanana River, and were most commonly observed among driftwood logs associated with patches of alder (Alnus spp.) and willow (Salix spp.). Peak of nest initiation was 3-8 May, with a range from 27 April to 20 May; renesting was likely. Clutches ranged in size from 2 to 7 eggs and averaged 4.6 eggs. There was a negative correlation between clutch size and date of nest initiation. Egg size (mean mass = 128 g) was similar to other medium-sized Canada Geese. A positive correlation between egg size and clutch size was likely related to female age. Nineteen of 28 nests (68%) were active when visited; nests located on islands with nesting Mew Gulls (Larus canus) were more likely to be active than nests located elsewhere. Evidence at nest sites implicated Bald Eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) and Red Foxes (Vulpes vulpes) as nest predators.


Lesser Canada Goose; Branta canadensis parvipes; clutch; eggs; nesting ecology; Tanana River; Alaska

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