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Do Geese Mate for Life? What Science Says

geese eating

It isn’t uncommon to see birds mate for life. Once the breeding season hits, they call a mate, and they’re inseparable from that point forward. But some birds don’t fit the bill.

It might come as a surprise, or maybe none at all, but geese have a pretty low divorce rate, meaning their pairings are practically successfully guaranteed. Granted, this isn’t always the case. So, let’s go over what monogamy means to your geese.


Most Geese Species Breed for Life

Geese, in most cases across most breeds, mate for life. However, there are certain instances where this isn’t true, or certain life circumstances can change things.

Mating for life helps geese maintain their population numbers. The parents work together as a team to raise their young, ensuring they are successfully mature and able to withstand life. It is very common for certain birds to be monogamous, but most large waterfowl are this way by a general rule.

Many scientists speculate on why this happens, and the verdict is still out. They believe it has something to do with pairs being much more efficient in ensuring the species’ survival. They breed in fewer numbers less often, so they can’t afford to risk polyamorous behavior.

Mating for life isn’t an easy task, however. This process can be very taxing, as it requires constant attention throughout most of the year. To recuperate, some couples will take some time off.

two embden geese
Image Credit: Innviertlerin, Pixabay


Circumstances of Divorce

Divorce can occur among mated pairs in certain circumstances. For instance, if one of the mates is having an issue keeping up with strenuous breeding schedules, it’s sometimes observed that the couple who wishes to resume mating meets a new potential prospect.

While light is still being shed upon geese pairing and separation rituals, there are some other potential explanations, such as:

  • Spending winters apart
  • Failure to reproduce
  • Finding birds with better territories
  • Death of a mate

Let’s explore these reasons in further detail.

goose and duckling
Image By: Pixabay

Spending Winters Apart

Sometimes in transition, mates can be forced apart for winters. Even though they might reconvene in the springtime, too much of a gap might exist between the once-bonded pair. Typically, if geese spend this much time solo, they meet a new match—but that isn’t always the case.

Failure to Reproduce

There might be circumstances where one goose cannot reproduce. After a few seasons of trying to lay, hatch, and raise goslings successfully, they might give up altogether. Couples who branch apart find another the following breeding season to try the process again.

Finding Birds with Better Territories

It’s a survival-of-the-fittest world out there. If a goose thinks another partner can offer them a safer, more secure future, they can potentially leave their current mate for another. This is rare, but resources are no joke for these birds.

Death of a Mate

If a mate dies prematurely, the other will mourn their death. Some might never mate again, but others eventually find another. It can happen as soon as the next breeding season, but it could take several years.


How Breeding Works

Geese don’t start the breeding process until the male is three years and the female is sometimes closer to four years old. They are highly selective when choosing a mate, so the process can take a while—especially if it’s slim pickings.

The breeding season begins in mid-winter and stops in early spring. It happens annually, so it’s quite the ritual. Parents breed, nest, and raise their hatchlings together until they are strong enough to make it on their own and start the process again the following year.

two canada goose walking
Image Credit: Piqsels

Loyalty in Geese

The loyalty of geese goes unmatched, as seen in many bird species. Geese pair up, bond, and raise families year after year their entire life. When their mate has eggs, they vehemently protect them during the nesting period.

And when they finally hatch goslings—lookout. Proud mama and papa goose will challenge any person who dares enter their territory. Geese are tremendous mates and doting parental figures.

Once a gander has located his dame, they remain together throughout the year—year after year. If all goes well, they will live and die together. But occasionally, due to special situations that are uncommon, like we’ve discussed, geese can divorce and re-pair.

Related Read: African Goose


Geese Mating: Final Thoughts

So, now you know that geese are diehard romantics. When they can, they stick with their first love forever. Two geese might divorce in certain situations, such as inability to reproduce or accidental separation.

Of course, there is always the tragic early demise of a mate. In these cases, many geese never mate again.

Featured Image Credit: GregSabin, Pixabay

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