More Tips on How To Keep Geese Off Your Yard and Pond

img 0218 300x225 More Tips on How To Keep Geese Off Your Yard and PondCanadian Geese are beautiful; but they are also messy, potentially aggressive, and capable of cleaning out your backyard pond of water plants in one or two afternoons. Not to mention potential damage to your lawn and gardens from the presents they leave behind!  The key to keeping geese out of your yard is in knowing the timetable when geese are the most mobile, and targeting them for harassment within that window of time, to discourage nesting behavior in a close proximity to you.

The Goose Calendar of Events

January and February, Geese are generally in their over-wintering areas, beginning to look for mates, and beginning the earliest migrations back to nesting grounds in late February. Canadian Geese spend the majority of March and April looking for the ideal nesting area, or returning to the specific place that they themselves were raised, and setting up a nest.  As part of their “imprinting,” geese will return to the area that they were hatched in, to see if there is enough room for a new nest there with their current mate.  If you have had problems with geese in the past, March is the best time to begin harassing any geese who show up on your property, to discourage nesting, and long summer stays. May and June are the months where goslings are the most likely to be present, and both parents, and goslings are incapable of flight until all flight feathers have grown back in, in July.  Occasionally, a mated pair will then begin a second nest, and raise a second family in late summer and early Fall.

Nesting

A Canada Goose pair will scout an area out for a few weeks before they will set up a nest.  Once you notice a solitary goose hanging around the property, you most likely already have a nest nearby, with the parents taking turns on the nest. The nest itself is lined with the parent’s “flight feathers,” a natural instinct that both ensures that the eggs are well insulated, and prevents the parents from leaving the eggs, or young goslings by flying away, therefor tying the fate of the parent goose in closely with the young.  The adults and the gosling will gain the ability to fly around the same time that the gosling grow their first batch of “flight feathers,” about 70 days from hatching.  It is also for this reason that geese are almost impossible to get rid of once they have goslings, and why it is imperative that a goose control regimen begin in early spring, when the adult goose is still mobile enough to evacuate your yard.

Geese are actually very intelligent animals, and often a few methods will be needed to encourage a mated pair to leave your area if it seems that they are dead set on living in your yard. One great alternative that has worked effectively is the “goose fence” but another idea that can work well with backyard water features and lawns is a simple rope trick I will talk about below.

How To Use “Line of Sight” Against Geese

Geese, and most waterfowl that I have worked with, do not like rope anywhere near them. They especially feel unsafe when they come across rope near their “safety zone,” which is any body of water they have adopted as their home base, and any turf area they frequent.  Geese have been studied avoiding areas that they once nested around, and even passing those areas over mid-flight, when their “line of sight” is disrupted across a pond, or a grazing area.  Geese rely on their social “warning structure” when on the ground, to become aware of threats to their safety.  Their warning structure comes into play when geese are grazing, and one goose at a time takes a turn at monitoring the area for predators, or danger.  When there is an obstruction to this view, the geese feel that their safety is in question. They also instinctively know that they are vulnerable around their neck, and will avoid obstacles that appear to target their neck area. Running a rope straight across a backyard pond, and anchoring it to two sides of your pond can cause geese to feel that not only if their “line of sight” diminished across a pond, but also that the rope itself, when hung correctly, is a threat to their safety.  A rope used to block “line of sight” for geese can be used across ponds, and also across lawns, with minimal time for set-up, and few materials needed.  The key points to hit in making this rope trick work for you are time selection, and height.

  • Time selection: The best time to use this trick is early in the year, when Geese are beginning to return from winter grounds in search of nesting sites.  If you can make your lawn, or backyard pond look less welcoming, and harder to navigate safely for the geese early in the year, you may find that the flock passes you over entirely without even stopping mid-flight to investigate.  If there are a lot of geese around already, your goal is then to make the area seem unwelcome.  Running sections of rope across your lawn, and pond will help in creating what the geese perceive as an impenetrable barrier through sections of what was excellent habitat.
  • Height: For this fence to properly target geese, you need to have securely tied rope that is held taut on stakes over either grass, or the water surface.  The ideal height for this over the water would be 6-12 inches from the rope to the surface of the water.  This height properly blocks the swimming ability of the adult goose through the entire pond, and hinders their line of sight in the pond, and when flying over the pond. The rope acts like a visual and physical barrier, and casting shadows over the pond that the geese don’t understand as well.
  • Rope Selection: I always recommend using rope is either white, or bright yellow, because these are the easiest colors for the geese to see.  Rope does not have to be the thickest on the market either, a thin nylon rope of construction grade will suffice as long as it is about the width of a human finger, to provide the most visual impact for the goose.

If you are using this method on a lawn, the best way to make your lawn and garden look inhospitable is to create several of these rope areas in either a large “M” or “N” formations where geese are the most nuisance, or, by simply creating a box of your lawn, enclosing it in a small shin-height fence that the geese cannot pass through.  If you are using diagonal lines, make sure to mix up the angles of the lines (M, or N), so that the geese cannot figure out how to graze up and down the “isles” of your roped area. Experiment with any rope that you buy, and see what meets your needs best, and what is allowed by your community (in case there are guidelines that may become problematic as you implement this).  Remember, geese cannot step over things, and cannot duck under things, so anything that would require a goose to do either of these things is in their minds an impassible object.

Don’t lose hope!

If Goose droppings are what bother you, remember a small amount of goose poo isn’t bad for your lawn. The droppings themselves are almost entirely grass, condensed into a form high in nitrogen. It is only when there is a high concentration of droppings that there is a danger of “burning” the lawn.

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Comments

  1. Don Wright says:

    I beg to differ. I watched a goose step on the lowest strand of a wire fence and while holding it down go between the low and middle strands. The strand were about 10-12″ apart.

  2. Jeanne says:

    I’m an old Colorado woman gardener and my house is like the Garden of Eden. I’m immediately under the fly zone of wild geese who l live at a city park with a good sized lake. Can’t have a picnic on the grass anymore….. Anyway, 30 years ago, when I had a couple of pennies to rub together, I put two life size white swan in a 20′x30′ pond in the bank yard. Then added a couple of the Canadian geese fakers and put them on land under the trees. The wild geese never land on the pond which has many many fish (however I fight off blue heron and raccoon). I’m wondering if my fake wild fliers are advising the real guys that this place is already occupied.

    Thank.

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  1. [...] and establish permanent nesting grounds.  Effective controls include homemade goose fences, and “line of sight” rope techniques over smaller sized ponds.  These methods are DIY friendly, and all the [...]

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