I enjoy all the wildlife we have in Salford but one bird that brings particular joy is the Canada goose that is found in large groups around our waterways; these geese are always full of character, lively and beautiful to see. Take a walk down to Salford Quays and the Canada geese will be there, pottering under the trees along the quay and bobbing on the water of the Manchester Ship Canal. Stroll around Peel Park and you will often find a group of these gregarious birds on the river Irwell. Introduced to the UK around 300 years ago as an ornamental bird, over 60,000 breeding pairs are now living here. These geese have adapted well to life in the city and to warmer climates.
The Canada goose is a large goose and has a black head and neck and large white throat patch. These geese were introduced from North America [Canada I guess] and have successfully spread to cover most of the UK. In North America these geese migrate [as most geese do] but in the UK they are resident all year round and have never learned migration routes. With a wingspan of up to 1.8 metre and a loud honking call it is not surprising that I have met more than one person who is too terrified to pass when one of these large geese is blocking a narrow path by the canal; they can be very intimidating. When Canada geese have nests and young they are very protective and they will hiss and charge anyone that they think is threatening their brood. In some areas of the UK Canada geese are so territorial they can chase off other wildfowl, therefore putting native species at risk.
These are handsome birds that generally mate for life and in spring the goslings are very cute and yet many consider them a nuisance both here and in North America. This intolerance is probably because of their numbers, their enjoyment of green lawns and the amount of droppings they leave behind. Canada goose droppings do cover the paths where they hang out and there are some suggestions that these droppings might be harmful to humans. The evidence that this is the case doesn’t appear to be there but [the same as droppings for other animals] if you ate goose faeces this would probably make you ill.
Families enjoy feeding the Canada geese, swans and black headed gulls at Salford Quays and the activity and excitement when someone turns up at the water’s edge with food is vibrant and stunning. While the birds will eat the bread most people bring, grains would be a better option if you want to help the birds through winter when there is less grass for them to eat.