How to create a sanctuary on your property for Canada Geese

By Elizabeth Gatto



When it comes to attracting and creating a safe space for wildlife, there are some fine lines between helping and harming the bird.  Canada geese are incredibly determined, and when they want to get into a property, there’s a good chance they will get in. They can fly as well as swim on water, and they can also waddle around too.  


First, keep in mind that Canada geese, as well as number of other birds are covered by federal law. This Migratory Birds Act means you cannot harm, capture, or kill a goose, so even if you have the best intentions, there are some steps you should follow and some others to avoid.  So, how do you make a safe sanctuary for them to enter?


Canada geese are large animals.  Because of their size, they require large patches of land with a source of food and water.  Canada geese need a big, flat patch of land to be able to take off and land without hindrance, so if you have an open, flat space, great!  If not, be sure to move obstacles such as lawn furniture or other man-made hindrances that would lead them to fly past your space.  It is worth noting that the more man-made obstacles, the greater the chances that they will somehow harm the waterfowl.  If you see an injured bird, or one that needs handling assistance above your expertise, you can contact humanely treat the goose.


Next, a source of fresh water such as a pond is a must.  Geese need a place to get water and take an occasional swim.  These birds much prefer areas that are covered with shorter grasses, to shrubs or tall grass, so make sure to keep your yard manicured.  Tall grasses often are seen as an obstacle while short grass is their main food source.  This brings up the next point; we do not recommend leaving out food such as bread for the geese because you could raise an issue with a local law or ordinance in your area.  Instead of feeding them in person, serving their natural food source, grass and keeping your distance is the best approach for a harmonious coexistence with the geese.  


One big factor behind how to attract the Canada goose will be what point of the year you're seeing these birds. Summer geese are usually just geese that have popped in to take a rest, a drink, and a break from the big migratory fly. Winter geese, on the other hand, are likely to have chosen your property as their migratory spot for the summer nesting with goslings likely to appear in May or June. Summer geese will move on after just a few days, in many cases, but the winter ones will be there to stay for the spring to raise their young.


You will find that you have pretty good results when you start with these basics; lots of territory with short grass and fresh water.  Working your way up from there, and doing things in this way also gives you the opportunity to evaluate your land as a whole; think of a golf course as an example of a perfect man-made sanctuary for a Canadian goose.  From there, you can work out the areas that are best for nesting or feeding, and protect them better.