What’s with all the Canada geese along U.S. Highway 2?

A co-worker asked me yesterday why she’s seeing so many Canada geese along U.S. Highway 2 when she travels between Grand Forks and Devils Lake.

They’re everywhere, she said, but are especially abundant between Petersburg, N.D., and Devils Lake. She wondered if the big birds were nesting along the highway to protect themselves and their goslings from predators such as coyotes.

Roger Hollevoet, project leader of the Devils Lake Wetland Management District.

I didn’t have an answer, so I called Roger Hollevoet, project leader of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Devils Lake Wetland Management District. He’s one of my main go-to guys when it comes to wetlands and waterfowl, so I figured he’d have an answer.

Most likely, he said, the geese my co-worker saw weren’t nesting but instead were sub-adults, immature birds not yet old enough to mate. They’re all dressed up — so to speak — with no place to go.

“There’s sub-adults all over the place, and it often takes Canada geese two to three years to actually mate,” Hollevoet said. “You’ve got those 1- to 2-year old birds running around and just loafing everywhere.”

Hollevoet said he saw his first Canada goose brood May 1 at Kellys Slough National Wildlife Refuge west of Grand Forks. Find a marsh with a muskrat hut, Hollevoet said, and there’s probably a Canada goose on top of the mound.

“They’re doing very well this year, and if someone decides to take binoculars and look in a wetland, there’s a good chance they’ll find a nest,” Hollevoet said. “There have been a lot of broods popping out already.”

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