Ecology of Wintering Canada Geese in the Greater Chicago Metropolitan Area W-182-R-1 Annual Progress Report (FY15) Period: 1 July 2014 – 30 June 2015

Heath M. Hagy, Brett E. Dorak, Michael P. Ward, Michael W. Eichholz

Research output: Book/Report/Conference proceedingTechnical report


During summer molt periods of 2014 and 2015, we captured and deployed neck collars and leg bands on 690 Canada geese. During December 2014 – February 2015, we captured 116 geese and deployed 9 transmitters, including 7 on temperate- and 2 on subarctic-breeding Canada geese. Geese wintering within the GCMA extensively used black rooftops of large industrial buildings and a rail yard south of Midway International Airport, the Chicago Sanitary and Shipping Canal, Stickney Water Treatment Plant, and green spaces within the GCMA. Preliminary findings show that primary use sites during February were warmer than temperatures recorded by local weather stations by as much as 9.6°C. Movements from geese wintering within the GCMA were localized around areas of capture (e.g., city parks; home ranges <700 ha) until cold temperatures temporarily displaced birds (home ranges > 3,000 ha). We observed limited apparent movements across Midway International Airport during normal temperatures, but during extreme cold weather, movements to locations surrounding Midway International Airport increased. In total, there have been 146 band and collar sightings reported to the USGS Bird Banding Laboratory of which, 16 were harvests, one was found dead, and 129 were resightings. Most resightings and harvests were within northeastern Illinois and northwestern Indiana (n = 116). Only one of the subarctic-breeding geese that was captured and collared within the GCMA has been resighted and that was on 28 May 2015 approximately 2.2 miles northwest of Hustisford, WI. During 5,294 diurnal resightings, geese used grass (72%), snow/grass mix (13%), and ice (12%) more than other substrates. Geese primarily foraged (58%), followed by alert (16%), resting (13%), and other behaviors. During our second field season, we hope to deploy 20 additional transmitters and 200 neck collars. We will also deploy temperature-recording devices and miniature weather stations in use locations to parameterize an operative temperature model and better understand factors affecting movements of Canada geese within the GCMA.
Original languageEnglish (US)
PublisherIllinois Natural History Survey
StatePublished - Aug 30 2015

Publication series

NameINHS Technical Report 2015 (20)


  • INHS


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