Precocious breeding by yearling Giant Canada Geese
- R.D. Drobney , J.M. Checkett , J.M. Coluccy , and D.A. Graber
Many species of waterfowl are capable of breeding as yearlings. In the subfamily Anserinae, however, reproduction normally does not commence until individuals reach two to four years of age (Rohwer 1992). Most published accounts indicate that Canada Geese (Branta canadensis) conform to the pattern typically found in other geese, deferring reproduction as yearlings and initiating breeding when birds are two years of age or older (Hanson 1962, Brakhage 1965, Bellrose 1980, Moser and Rusch 1989). The few documented exceptions (Brakhage 1965, Cooper 1978, MacInnes and Dunn 1988) suggest that the likelihood of a successful breeding attempt is higher for yearling males than females and that when early breeding occurs, one member of the pair is often at least two years old. Only two records of nesting attempts by yearling female Canada Geese have been published (Hall and McGilvrey 1971, Mickelson, 1975). In each case, the female produced some fertile eggs but deserted the nest before the eggs hatched.
The observations noted above demonstrate that reproduction by yearling Canada Geese is physiolog ically possible for both sexes, but they also raise a number of interesting questions regarding why most individuals defer breeding during their first year. Energetic or nutritional constraints, and the inability of yearlings to secure and successfully defend a territory, are likely physiological (Elder 1946) and social (Brakhage 1965) impediments to early breeding From an evolutionary perspective, reduced reproductive success of yearlings relative to adults, and increased mortality associated with early breeding. also may contribute to deferred sexual maturity in waterfowl (Rohwer 1992).
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- Publication Subtype:
- Journal Article
- Precocious breeding by yearling Giant Canada Geese
- Series title:
- The Auk
- Year Published:
- American Ornithological Society
- 3 p.
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