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Canada Geese in West Greenland

We have been ringing Greenland White-fronted Geese in west Greenland since 1979, part of a long term study of this population which breeds in West Greenland and winters exclusively in Ireland and Britain. Before 1950, the Whitefront was the only common goose species nesting on the west coast of Greenland. At that time, there were very few Canada Geese records from Greenland at all, but although the species began to increase subsequently, it was still described as a rare and irregular breeding bird confined to the Disko Bay region of West Greenland in the early 1980s. Since then, there has been a spectacular increase in numbers (see Auk 113: 231-233 and Goose Specialist Group Bulletin 7: 23-25) and the species is now a very common breeder on many parts of Disko Island (69·N), the adjacent Nuussuaq Peninsula (70·N) and further north on the Svartenhuk Peninsula (71·N).

In our small study area of Isungua, just north of Søndre Strømfjord airport (67º08'N, 50º30'W), we first encountered Canada Geese in 1988 during a Whitefront banding project. That year, there were just eight birds; this summer (1997), in the same area, there were well over 250, including many breeding birds. Hence, the population here in the south of the range is also increasing dramatically. We first caught birds in Isungua in July 1992, and of 10 banded, three were recovered shot at Sandy Island, Labrador (56º43'N, 61º20'W), in the following autumn and four others were reported on the wintering areas, generally in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. This summer, we banded another 120 in the same study area, and the first to be reported from outside Greenland have been shot in New Brunswick in October (at Fredericton, Sunbury Co. 45º40'N, 66º37'W and Woodstock 46º09'N, 67º35'W). These reports give us an exciting clue as to the migratory routes that this newly established population takes to its ultimate wintering areas and we look forward to more news relating to our birds as the winter progresses.

We wish to learn a great deal more about this population of Canada Geese, especially to try and understand where they originated from and whether they are likely to cause any detrimental effect on the ecology and breeding biology of the White-fronted Geese. For that reason, we are extremely interested in any observations or recovery records of Canada Geese seen or shot in North America bearing yellow neck bands and/or yellow tarsus bands with three letter/digit codes starting with the letter "G". The birds also bear metal leg bands with the return address at the Zoological Museum in Copenhagen.

We very much hope that you will look out for our marked birds and promptly report the records through the regular toll-free reporting telephone line (1-800-327-2263) or by sending full details to the address on the metal ring. However, if you would like further details of our work and activities, please do not hesitate to contact me by telephone (+45-89-20-15-05), fax (+45-89-20-15-14), e-mail ( or mail (to NERI, Kalø, Grenåvej 12, DK-8410 Rønde, Denmark).

Many thanks for your interest in our work.

Tony Fox

Senior Research Biologist
National Environmental Research Institute
Grenåvej 12
DK-8410 Rønde

See also Geese in Space, a website with information on satellite radioed Canada Geese from Greenland.

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