It not stale popcorn and Marvel Bread, though the Muscovy geese and Khaki Campbells at the area people middle pond could be very happy in case you confirmed up with both or each. So, what do geese eat?

Answering that query can show considerably of a problem. There’s all kinds of duck meals on the market, as nearly all of wild waterfowl will make a meal of 1,001 various things, relying on the place they’re, the time of yr, and what’s accessible. Nevertheless, by breaking geese down into teams after which understanding how the members of every group feed, the clouds half and the thriller of what geese eat begins to unravel.

Two Major Forms of Geese

Canvasbacks love wild celery (Vallisneria americana) a lot so {that a} portion of their Latin identify—Aythya valisineria—is derived from their go-to meals supply. Adobe Inventory / oasisamuel

Sure, there are tree geese like black-bellied whistling geese, and sea geese like surf scoters. Nevertheless, 99 % of North American waterfowl will fall into one in every of two classes, both dabbling geese or diving geese.

Dabbling Geese

Often known as puddle geese as a result of their desire for shallow water “puddles,” this group contains mallards, pintails, widgeon, teal, northern shovelers, and gadwall. Dabbling geese feed by tipping up; that’s, by pointing their tails to the sky, placing their head underwater, and looking out about or “grubbing” with their invoice for issues to eat. With their legs positioned roughly on the mid-point between their tail and chest, dabblers are well-designed for this so-called tipping up, in addition to strolling about on land in the hunt for meals.

Diving Geese

Because the identify implies, diving geese reminiscent of better and lesser scaup, canvasbacks, and redheads dive for his or her meals. They’re outfitted for the duty nonetheless, because of a number of bodily variations from dabblers together with an extra streamlined physique, compact backswept wings that decrease drag, legs situated nearer to their tails, and lobed paddle-like toes. Though diving geese, or “divers,” will spend time on shallow ponds, frequent haunts for these rugged fowl embody big-water lakes and rivers with typical feeding depths of 10-50 toes. As soon as at an underwater meals supply, divers will hunt about till discovering a suspect, snatch it up of their robust invoice, and rise to the floor, the place it’s swallowed entire to be crushed by the chook’s highly effective gizzard.

What Do Geese Eat?

With this background now, understanding what’s on the menu for dabblers and divers turns into a bit simpler. Dabblers eat primarily vegetative materials and, when accessible and accessible, grains. Nevertheless, none will hesitate to complement their plant weight loss program with terrestrial bugs and aquatic invertebrates. The menu would possibly look one thing like this:

  • Duck weed
  • Algae
  • Sensible weed
  • Wild celery/eelgrass
  • Wild rice
  • Coontail
  • Grasses
  • Earthworms/nightcrawlers
  • Insect larvae, reminiscent of hellgrammites 
  • Flying bugs
  • Spiders
  • Snails 
  • Acorns (wooden geese)
  • Agricultural crops, reminiscent of corn, barley, peas, and millet

Divers received’t forgo a buffet of submerged vegetation, however the group is primarily recognized for his or her fondness of non-vegetative meals, reminiscent of:

  • Clams
  • Mussels
  • Small fish or minnows
  • Aquatic bugs
  • Freshwater shrimp
  • Crayfish 

What Do Geese Eat: Notes and Exceptions

Photo of a merganser eating a fish
Whereas hooded mergansers will eat extra plant materials than non-plant meals, hardly ever will they shrink back from fish. Adobe Inventory / Debi Murk / Wirestock Creators

In Mom Nature, there are only a few hard-and-fast guidelines. Such is the case in a dialogue specializing in what geese eat. It’s straightforward to generalize and say dabblers eat vegetation and divers favor one thing apart from crops, nevertheless it’s vital to not overlook these notes and exceptions.

Widespread and red-breasted mergansers, also called fish geese, do certainly eat all kinds of fish, together with salmon smolts, trout, minnows, shad, and recreation fish. Nevertheless, a relative, the good-looking hooded merganser, really eats extra plant materials than it does non-plant meals.

Don’t suppose for a minute that mallards received’t eat fish. Late within the season when winter-killed gizzard shad seem in Midwestern lakes and rivers, mallard geese will usually gorge themselves on this short-lived, albeit ample meals supply, placing them in a neck-to-neck race with mergansers when it comes to on-the-table style. UGH!

Like scaup swallowing zebra mussels entire, letting their gizzards carry out the duty of “chewing” their meals for them, wooden geese generally eat oak acorns entire, their necks then spherical and bulging, feeling very very like a sack crammed with marbles. Years in the past, I cleaned a gorgeous drake woodie, solely to search out that the needle-sharp level of a completely intact hickory nut had punctured the chook’s gizzard and was protruding into its physique cavity.

The king of all geese, the canvasback, is technically a diver, nevertheless it prefers to spend its time on shallower, although expansive waters just like the Mississippi’s Pool 9, along with his favourite menu merchandise being wild celery. Canvasbacks love wild celery (Vallisneria americana) a lot so {that a} portion of their Latin identify—Aythya valisineria—is derived from their go-to meals supply.

How do you make a widgeon completely satisfied? Give the little grazer 50 acres of quick, inexperienced grass pasture with an inch or much less of water overtop. Sprinkle 500 baldpate on the identical soggy area, and so they’ll give any three-deck John Deere mower a run for its cash.

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