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Aleutian Canada Goose

A success story

Order: Anseriformes

Family: Anatidae

Subfamily: Anserinae

Genus & Species: Branta canadensis leucopareia


The Aleutian Canada goose is one of the smallest of the Canada goose subspecies. They are easily recognizable with their grey breast and black neck, back, and front of the head. There is a white ring around the base of the neck and two white cheek patches on the face that do not meet under the throat. Both the males and females have the same markings. The bill is short and the forehead is abrupt.

The Aleutian Canada goose goes by many names, including the Hutchin's goose, white-cheeked goose, lesser Canada goose, Asiatic Canada goose, tundra goose, land goose, and titmouse goose, as well as by several Inuit names, including legch, luch, lug-ach, lagix, and shijukara gan.


The Aleutian Canada goose lives on the Aleutian Island chain of Alaska. They are also found on the Commander and Kuril Islands of Japan. They used to winter from B.C. to Mexico but today winter only in Oregon, Washington, and California. Some of these geese are sometimes spotted in Canada, although they do not live there. They nest on eight islands, including Buldir Island, Chagulak Island and Agattu Island. They migrate between August and December, with the greatest number leaving in September. In the winter many of them can be found near Crescent City and Sacramento Valley.


Aleutian Canada geese are omnivores, having a steady diet of arthropods, evergreen shrubs, roots, tubers, leaves, and stems during the breeding season. They also consume crowberries. The goslings are fed insects such as ground beetles. All their water is taken from vegetation. During the non-breeding season they feed on crops such as corn, wheat, barley, oats, and lima beans. Water is taken from low-lying flooded areas.


The mating season is from May to June. Aleutian Canada geese become sexually mature around the age of two or three. The incubation period is 28 days, with an average clutch of 4-6 eggs. Both the males and females guard the nest prior to setting, only the males after. They nest in treeless islands and areas covered with sedge, grass, and ferns with no source of fresh water.


The main enemy of the Aleutian Canada goose is the Arctic fox, which was introduced to the islands between 1836 and 1930. These fox killed off so many geese they were considered to be extinct for thirty years until a colony was discovered on Buldir Island in 1962. Several of these geese were then moved to four other islands where they successfully bred. In 1990 they were doing so well their status was moved from "endangered" to "threatened" and will soon be moved to "delisted."

Arctic foxes are not the only enemies of the Aleutian Canada goose. Glaucous-winged gulls have been known to eat the eggs while bald eagles prey on the young or flightless. Peregrine falcons, snowy owls, and prairie falcons are also known to hunt them. Parasitic jaegers, related to the gulls, will ruthlessly attack them for their food. Lastly, humans pose a threat as well. Farmers shoot them on sight because they damage crops. Manmade disasters also affect them. At least 11 out of 200 Aleutian Canada geese were oiled after the Humboldt Oil Spill. The last major threat to these geese is their susceptibility to diseases such as avian cholera. From January 8 to March 8 of 1996, 171 died from this disease. Another 54 were wiped out from December 7, 1996 to January 7, 1997.


The Aleutian Canada goose is one of eleven subspecies of the Canada goose, including the cackling Canada goose, the giant Canada goose, and Taverner's Canada goose. In 1979 a hybrid group of Aleutian Canada geese and Taverner's Canada geese was discovered.


1. "Saving the Endangered 100", Life Magazine, Sept 1994 ed
2. info/game/al_goose.htm
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8. states/species/BRANCANC.HTM
9. states/species/brancano.htm