Migratory birds passing through Craig | CraigDailyPress.com

Migratory birds passing through Craig

Canada geese (Branta canadensis) feed in a field near the Public Safety Center on First Street.
Sasha Nelson/staff

CRAIG — A large flock of seasonal migrants — Canada geese — gathered recently on a field near First Street in Craig. Native to North America, the seven subspecies of this bird vary widely in size and plumage details, but all are recognizable as Canada geese.

Like most wild geese, Canada geese are naturally migratory. Their autumn migration can be seen from September to about the beginning of November. Canada geese fly in a distinctive V-shaped flight formation, which has been the subject of study by researchers. The front position is rotated, since flying in front consumes the most energy.

Most Canada geese have staging, or resting, areas, where they join with others. Primarily herbivores, the Canada goose’s diet included green vegetation and grains, though they sometimes eat small insects and fish. The species also eats a variety of grasses when on land.

Over-hunting and loss of habitat in the late 19th and early 20th centuries had resulted in a serious decline in the bird’s numbers. In recent years, however, Canada goose populations in some areas have grown to the point that they are considered pests for their droppings, which can contain harmful bacteria, noise and confrontational behavior.

Northwest Colorado’s winters are generally too cold for the geese, so, like some residents, they will soon continue their annual trip south to the warmer climates in Arizona and Mexico.

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