Temporal Changes in Fall and Winter Foods of Canada Geese

We studied fall and winter food habits of Canada geese (Branta canadensis) in the Swan Lake Zone of north-central Missouri during the 1980-82 hunting seasons. Gizzards from hunter-killed geese were obtained during 5 periods of each hunting season. Average proportions of native foods, row crops, winter wheat, and other forage were highly variable among and within years. Row crops in the diet ranged from an average of 1.1%to 99.6% by volume, compared to 0.3% to 98.8% for native foods. In general, row crops increased and native foods decreased in average percent volume through the hunting season, except in 1982, when floods during the hunting season likely kept native foods available all season. Winter wheat (Triticum aestivum) comprised up to 26.2% average volume. Cold temperatures and snow and ice accumulations increased use of row crops and decreased use of native foods within a season. We recommend that management for Canada geese include providing native foods to ensure that a range of food alternatives is available.

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