Courting

Canada Geese have become quite amorous lately and active courtship of females by their male partners is in full swing.  Although the geese pair for life, starting at two or three years of age, nevertheless, the spring-time ritual of honking in the female’s face to show devotion is mandatory.

I watched a pair of geese perform the other day while walking the trails at the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge (along the Minnesota River before it joins up with the Mississippi).  Males use their long neck to advantage snaking it around the female, extending it as far as possible and then opening wide, lifting their tongue, and emitting a screeching honk at or near her face.  She then coyly dips her head in submission or gazes admiringly at this masculine behavior, as he snakes his neck around her and gives her a little peck.

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Bird tongues are more mobile than I thought — at least in Canada Geese, and the male seems to actively wave it around during his honk.  I wonder if other waterfowl use this technique to attract females.

Canada goose courtship-15

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