Chicago, IL,
17:00 PM

Canada Geese Nesting at GSU

If you’ve walked outside or even looked out a window at GSU, you’ve probably noticed some spring visitors. They walk around in pairs and trios, laze on the lagoon during classes, and they don’t seem to pay any attention to where they leave their, umm, waste.

Although many people mistakenly call them Canadian, these aviary additions to campus come from all over the North American continent.

Canada geese are the most widespread goose in North America and are becoming increasingly common in urban areas in Illinois. While there are several subspecies of Canada geese in North America, only the giant Canada Goose (Branta canadensis maxima), the largest subspecies, is known to breed in Illinois. Geese use lakes, ponds, bays, wetlands, marshes, and storm-water management ponds for nesting grounds. Canada Geese are herbivores and will spend several hours grazing and foraging for food on land or in water. When feeding, they often use agricultural fields and areas of short vegetation such as lawns. In the fall, large flocks of multiple families gather together for the southward migration to their wintering grounds.

Canada Geese are not shy about building nests in urban environments—especially near campus buildings and entrances—and Geese will aggressively defend their nest and any young during breeding season. For this reason, you should stay at least 30 feet away from geese at all times. If you find yourself less than 30 feet away, try increasing the space between you and them or taking a wider approach to your destination. Be alert and ready to get out of the vicinity of the goose. When geese feel threatened, they will typically charge humans from behind striking them with their wing or beak.

Recognize the warning signs of an attack:

  • A goose that is likely to attack will begin with being noisy and making hissing noises.
  • The goose will probably also extend its wings to help it appear more fearsome.

*Remember that it is always safer to avoid confrontation than to provoke it. The safest action you can perform is to increase your distance from the geese.

Take action:

  • Use a different entrance or sidewalk than you commonly use if you notice geese in the vicinity.
  • Stay at least 30 feet away from geese.
  • Do not stare down the goose, but be sure to know where it is.
  • Do not turn your back; face the goose as you slowly walk away to reduce the threat of attack.
  • Get to safety, well away from the goose.

For additional information about wildlife in Illinois, please visit: