Social Organization in a Flock of Resident Canada Geese

Visual observations of marked individuals in a resident flock of Canada geese (Branta canadensis) on the Eufaula National Wildlife Refuge, AlabamaGeorgia, were conducted from July 1980 through May 1982. Associations among geese were examined during 2 periods (breeding, February-May; and nonbreeding, June-January). Social groupings were determined for 231 geese in 1980-81 and 240 in 1981-82 based on 4,577 observations during the breeding season and 666 observations during the nonbreeding season. Adult pairs that nested successfully remained with their young-of-the-year throughout the nonbreeding season and composed families; and pairs that did not nest successfully usually joined pseudofamilies, social groups of adult and yearling geese. Pseudofamilies were the predominant social units (80%) in the flock. All social units except yearling groups dissociated during the breeding season, and most pairs established nesting territories or dispersed from the area. The landing group count method is inappropriate to estimate productivity for goose flocks with a large percentage of pseudofamilies.

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