Calgarians asked to help stop geese from nesting on their balconies

adult and baby geese on a balcony Photo by Ben Lavin

Calgarian condo owners may end up with uninvited houseguests this spring if they aren’t careful.

Wildlife specialists in Calgary are asking residents’ help in discouraging geese who like to make their nests on balconies in the city. According to Holly Duvall, executive director of Alberta Institute for Wildlife Conservation, geese are drawn to high rises as potential sites for nests, but having geese living on buildings isn’t good for people or the birds themselves.

Canada geese, who migrate back to southern Alberta in the spring, prefer to nest in spots that are elevated and near water, which makes balconies look like an appealing option. And on two- or three-story buildings, this isn’t such a problem, as goslings who are learning to fly don’t have as far to fall. “They’re very little so there’s not as much of an impact when they do hit the ground,” Duvall told the Calgary Eyeopener. “But obviously a lot of our high rises are a lot taller than that.”

“So if we can prevent them from nesting in the first place, then there won’t be the issue.” Geese also nest on balconies in Edmonton.

In 2015, Edmontonian Ben Lavin (photo courtesy of Lavin) documented the life of a goose he named Lucy, who was living on his balcony.

Canada geese aren’t always the most beloved of animals, but they they themselves don’t seem bothered by the idea of living alongside humans. In fact, a few years ago, a goose made news by laying eggs next to the steps of Calgary’s city hall, and in Edmonton, a family of geese caused a traffic jam by taking a leisurely stroll.

“From their perspective, the city environment is just as similar as a wild environment for a wild goose living up in the north,” Sid Andrews, an interpretation coordinator with the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary, told the CBC. “You can see they adapt quite well to city steps, apartment balconies, a puddle in the middle of a traffic circle, anything like that. From a goose’s point of view, because remember they can fly, the river — whether it’s the Bow or the Elbow — the river’s not far away.”

Duvall says that geese tend to return to the same nesting spots, so once they decide to build a home on a balcony, it will be hard to discourage them from coming back. She recommends making balconies uncomfortable to geese by blocking floor space, putting netting along rails, and putting up colourful flags or balloons. Some stores also sell bird deterrents.

The Alberta Institute for Wildlife Conservation gets about a hundred calls each spring from homeowners wanting geese removed from their property, Duvall says, but moving geese can be difficult, and the birds can become aggressive. It’s preferable to prevent them from nesting near homes in the first place.

“You want to humanely prevent them from accessing these areas, as much as possible,” she said.

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