19 Fascinating Facts About Geese

Geese are well-known for their impressive flying abilities.

Geese have cultural significance in many societies around the world. They are often featured in folklore, literature, and artwork.

From ancient guardians and messengers to natural lawnmowers and cultural symbols, geese have been integral to our lives in surprising and significant ways.

But that's not all, so join us as we discover 19 incredible geese facts!


Geese play a role in folklore and mythology worldwide.
According to legend, at the beginning of time, a goose called "the Great Honker" laid the golden egg that is the Sun.
Ancient Egyptians believed they represented the human soul of the deceased and were messengers between the heavens and Earth.
In Hindu mythology, the god Brahma is often depicted riding a goose or hamsa.

Geese are highly social animals and are often seen in large groups known as flocks or gaggles.
They have a strong sense of community and rely on their flock for protection, foraging, and navigation during migration. They communicate with each other through a variety of vocalizations, including honking and hissing sounds.

Geese can live for a relatively long time.
In the wild, geese have been known to live up to 20 years or more, while captive geese may live even longer with proper care and protection. Their long lifespan is influenced by factors such as habitat quality, food availability, and the absence of significant threats.

Geese are well-known for their impressive flying abilities.
They have strong wings and are capable of flying long distances during migration. Geese fly in a distinctive V-shaped formation, which helps them conserve energy by taking advantage of the uplift created by the bird in front of them. This formation also allows them to maintain visual contact and communicate with each other during flight.

Geese are primarily herbivorous, meaning they feed on plant material.
They graze on grass, leaves, stems, and aquatic vegetation. Geese have a specialized beak that is adapted for tearing and grinding plant matter. They also have serrated edges on their tongues, which helps them grip and pull vegetation.

Geese have incredible eyesight.
Their eyes allow them to see more detail at a further distance than what we are capable of, as well as the ability to see UV light.
Due to them mainly migrating at night and early morning, they can see in much darker places than us.

Geese often sleep on water or on one leg.
Geese have been known to sleep on water with their heads tucked under their wing. They do this because most of their common predators won't follow them into the water.
Their sleep cycles are also much quicker than ours, allowing them to wake every few minutes to ensure they haven't drifted away.
Biologists think geese and other waterfowl sleep on one leg to regulate heat. Tucking one leg away means it doesn't have to heat up both legs. However, it could just be a comfy way to sit!

Geese are known for partnering up for the long haul, often mating for life.
This doesn't mean they are entirely monogamous, though. One study states that up to 40% of the chicks a male goose helps to raise aren't his offspring.

Geese practice communal parenting.
In some goose species, a few parents will look after all of the young in a crèche system, ensuring higher survival rates for the goslings.
Parents rotate the babysitting duties so they can forage and do other goose-related activities!
Sometimes known as "gang broods," they can have over 80 goslings at a time.

Geese are expert navigators.
Researchers believe they use landmarks, the Sun, stars, and Earth's magnetic field to navigate, with the help of magnetite in their beaks.

Geese are able to withstand extreme cold.
Although geese are known for flying to warmer weather, they are very capable of surviving in cold temperatures.
Geese survive the extreme cold by using methods such as standing on one leg, tucking their bill into their warm down feathers, and utilizing their feathers like a thick, down jacket.
Their outer layer of feathers has an oily coating, ensuring they stay dry, while their lower fluffy coat, known as goose down, is perfect insulation.
Their veins and arteries are also positioned so that as warm blood pumps to their extremities, it warms up the blood on its way back to the heart.

Geese communicate in many different ways.
These birds are pretty talkative, using a variety of honks, hisses, and cackles to communicate everything from warnings to greetings within their flock.
Of course, geese also have mating calls, and the male makes long, rhythmic chants to attract a mate. Geese often make loud honks when they see their partner again after being away.
Body language is also used during courtship displays and to indicate feelings of aggression. If you see a goose extending its neck and flapping its wings at you, back away slowly.

Prehistoric geese were as big as cows!
The Latin name for this giant bird is Dromornis stirtoni. Weighing in at a maximum of 1,322 lb (600 kg), it wasn't just the largest goose ever but also one of the largest birds!
These prehistoric geese grew to 9.8 feet (3 meters) tall and lived in modern-day Australia between 24 and 5 million years ago, during the Miocene period.
This and other factors found in the bone structure show that this was probably a flightless bird.

A very brave goose was once enlisted in the British army.
Jacob the Goose was enlisted at Quebec in 1838. He came to England with the 2nd Battalion of the Regiment in 1842 and died on detachment at Croydon in 1846.

High-flying geese are a nightmare for commercial planes.
During migration, a bar-headed goose was recorded flying at altitudes of up to 7,290 m (23,920 ft). Bar-headed geese fly over the Himalayas into warmer regions in India during winter.

Geese were an important symbol to the people of Ancient Rome and were considered a sacred animal of Juno, queen of the gods.
In 390 BCE, during a lengthy siege on Rome, the relentless honking of the sacred geese at Rome's Temple of Juno on Capitoline Hill was heard.
This alerted the townsfolk to a night attack by the Gauls, allowing them to defend the city successfully against Rome's first sacking.

In Chinese culture, geese symbolize love and marital fidelity.
The domestication of geese in China can be traced back to the Neolithic period (around 5,000 BC), during which time many stories and poems about geese were written.
For example, the Shijing (written between the 7th and 11th centuries AD) is the oldest existing collection of Chinese poetry and features many poems about geese.

Some vineyards employ geese as natural pest control.
Geese help control pests by eating a variety of insects and weeds. Their presence in Italian vineyards reduces the need for chemical pesticides, promoting organic farming practices.
Vineyards and farmlands from Italy to South Africa use geese to help reduce pollution and cost.
While eating the bugs and weeds, they also help fertilize the soil as they walk through the farm.

AI has been trained to recognize goose faces.
A team of researchers at the Konrad Lorenz Research Center in Vienna taught an AI program to recognize goose faces. The team and its director, Sonia Kleindorfer, were able to do this at 97% accuracy!
With this technology, they're able to track the social structures within flocks of geese more clearly.

BioMed Central Ltd / Forces.net / Ducks Unlimited Canada / Go Geese Go - Geese Winter Distance / Go Geese Go - Canadian Geese / Scisnack / Forest Preserve District Will County / Research Gate / University of Chicago / Wikipedia - Bar Headed Goose / National Library of Medicine / Center for Wilderness Safety / Indiana Department of Natural Resources / True Spirit Animal / Ducks Unlimited / War History Online / Delicious Italy / Beach Metro / World Wide Birder / New Scientist / NPR / Wikipedia - Brahma / Smithsonian Insider / Wikipedia - Geese in Chinese Poetry / Wikipedia - Classic of Poetry / CNN / The Fact Site