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GOLF COURSE GEESE


Canada Geese can digest green grasses

Do you like golfing? Do you like nice open green spaces? Did you know that you have that in common with Canada geese? Well not the golfing part, that’s would be silly, but recently Canada geese have been making golf courses their homes and enjoying green spaces outside where they’ve lived historically. This once threatened migratory species from Canada is now becoming a common sight across the United States year round. These birds were intentionally introduced by people to places they had not lived before to help them survive and they have thrived!

Canada Geese can digest green grasses

These amazing birds historically nested in northern and southern Canada grasslands. Every winter these birds would make a trip (or migrate) down to the USA, much like how we like to visit places with nice weather during super-hot or cold seasons. They avoid the colder and harsher northern winters and get lots of food and sun in the south. But why do Canada geese love our golf courses so much? The Canada geese can live in many habitats near water or grassy fields and they can digest grass (eat grass for food). Our golf courses tend to be large grassy places with water features perfect for feasting and resting. Another reason why geese love golf courses is because of safety. When they are looking for places to nest and find food, golf courses and lawns give them a clear view of predators. Canada geese behavior also affects their migration locations. Geese return to nest where they first learned to fly, which means if they breed on the golf course they will return “home.” Not all Canada geese have stopped migrating, they do migrate but they prefer to live where life is easier.


Let’s put ourselves in the webbed feet of the geese for a moment. Imagine you live somewhere that

Golf courses are an excellent habitat for geese

gets really cold during the winter (perhaps Canada) . . . and you can’t afford heating, but imagine someone you don’t really know that well has offered you a vacation home in a really nice place that’s warm and sunny (for example California) and all you have to do is get there, and the place is yours for the winter. Sounds like a great deal? Now imagine you’ve not only had this experience (like the traditional migrating geese) but you discover that the vacation home is really great! And that it is free (aside from the cost of traveling) and food and entertainment is included! It’s on an amazing green golf course in mild California. Would you want to go home when you could stay for free getting free food and not having the costly trip of migrating? Now this isn’t exactly how the geese feel . . . I haven’t been able to talk to them to know for sure, but I think it’s a pretty good idea. Even though some consider these birds to be pests and “Canada rats” as I’ve heard them called, these birds are incredibly adapted and beautiful. Even the golf course geese are amazing animals that have found new ways to survive in a very human oriented environment. It’s fantastic to see these animals taking advantage of the opportunities to thrive and survive that we make available to them.

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The Havasi Wilderness Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to heightening awareness and appreciation of the natural environment.

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