How to Tell Female From Male Canadian Geese

Written by keith allen
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How to Tell Female From Male Canadian Geese
Both sexes of the Canada goose look identical (Canada goose image by Alison Bowden from

Canadian geese, Branta canadensis, are a common species of wild goose in North America. As the name would indicate the species nests in Canada during the summer and migrates south to winter in the southern United States and Mexico. The species is known for its distinctive honking call and the flying in unison in a V-shaped pattern. The species includes 10 subspecies, all of which look similar. Both genders of the Canada goose look identical.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Observe the size of the goose. Comparatively speaking the larger goose of the pair is usually the male or gander, according to the Coalition to Prevent the Destruction of Canada Geese website. This gender identification only works within pairs because the geese can vary in size depending on age and development.

  2. 2

    Observe behaviour of the geese in the spring. During nesting the female Canada goose is most commonly sitting on the nest. The gander may be around the area and strike a defensive stance if the area is threatened. Nesting is the only behaviour where the sexes take different roles.

  3. 3

    Insert a finger in the vent or anus of the goose. Male geese will have a protruding organ within the vent while female geese will not. Only trained wildlife technicians or veterinarians should attempt this procedure.

Tips and warnings

  • Canada geese mate at about three years of age and can live to be 20 years old. The birds commonly reuse the same nesting area year after year.
  • Handling wild animals causes a great deal of stress to the animal. If determining the gender is necessary it should only be done by a trained professional.

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