Geese are large and very vocal birds rarely seen on their own. In many places, Canada Geese in particular have become common, expected, and bold bird species on golf courses and in public parks. Like other species of Geese, they can gather in large flocks that forage in wetlands, or on the ground in open grassy areas.
Although a group of Geese is technically a flock of birds, the proper and correct name for a group of Geese is “gaggle.”
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What is a Group of Geese Called?
A group of geese is called a gaggle.
This odd expression came into being hundreds of years ago in England, a country that has always been visited by large flocks of wintering geese. You can read more here.
Several species of geese migrate through or spend the winter in coastal wetlands in England including Greater White-fronted Goose, Pink-footed Goose, Barnacle Goose, Graylag Goose, and other species. One of the things all of these big, duck-like birds have in common is a tendency to vocalize and make noise, sometimes, lots of noise.
Geese are very communicative, perhaps even more so when flocking.
If a goose is alone, the bird will make loud honking noises to locate other geese to join them.
When geese are in a gaggle, the noises they make tend to be quieter but can also be constant and consist of small clucking and chattering sounds as they communicate with each other. If a bird gives the alarm, or the birds feel that the time has come to migrate to another spot, that chattering can turn into loud honking that reaches a crescendo as they take flight.
Although no one knows exactly why the word “gaggle” started being used to describe a group of geese, it may be related to the sounds made by geese, related to the same word being used to describe a group of rowdy and disorderly people, or a bit of both explanations.
Some have also said that “gaggle” might be used for a group of geese because the same word has been used to describe groups of women loudly speaking with each other.
Why is it Called A Gaggle?
The origin of the word “gaggle” comes from an old Dutch word, “gagelen” and the subsequent Middle English word, “gagel”. These words mean, “to cackle”, a fair description of various geese vocalizations. The word itself might have also come into being as an imitation of the sounds that Geese make.
Although “gaggle” is the most common word to describe a flock of geese, technically, it only refers to a flock of geese on the ground. This is probably because geese are more communicative and cackle when resting and foraging together in a field or wetland than in flight.
Another word, “skein” refers to a flock of geese in flight, and several other terms also exist to refer to a group of geese, including these ones:
- A chevron of geese- A “chevron” is a symbol shaped like a “V” and refers to the form a flock of geese often take during flight.
- A bunch of geese
- A Christmas of geese- A cooked goose is a traditional aspect of an English Christmas dinner.
- A flight of geese
- A cluster of geese
- A herd of geese
- A string of geese- This may refer more to Brant, a small goose that flies in long lines or a “string”.
- A “V” formation of geese- This refers to the form a flock of Geese can take during flight.
- A plumb of geese
- A nide of geese
- A lag of geese
Do Geese Gather Together in the Wild?
Geese commonly gather together in the wild just as much as domestic birds. All species of geese, and many ducks, prefer to form flocks rather than forage on their own.
When breeding, geese form pairs but as soon as the breeding season is over, they locate other geese so they can form flocks and continue to stick together during fall, winter, and early spring.
All species of geese form gaggles and skeins, and several species form flocks in the hundreds or even the thousands. In common with several other bird species and animals, geese group together for protection from predators. With dozens, hundreds, or thousands of similar-looking birds to look through, predators can have trouble focusing on just one.
Geese are also much more likely to spot a predator at a safe distance and give the alarm than a goose on its own when in a gaggle. When geese forage, they are vulnerable since they can’t look out for danger.
Foraging in a flock solves this dangerous dilemma because it ensures that at least some geese will always be watching for eagles and other predators while other geese forage.
During flight, flocking behavior also helps geese because flying in a “V” formation reduces drag and saves energy. The geese occasionally change positions to keep the first bird in the formation from becoming exhausted.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a flock of Geese in flight called?
A flock of geese that are flying is called a skein. Geese fly in skeins but are known as a “gaggle” when they are on the ground.
Is it a gaggle or a flock of Geese?
The correct term for a flock of geese is a “gaggle.”
Is a group of Geese called a gander?
No, the correct term for a group of geese is a “gaggle”. A gander is a male goose.
A group of geese is known as a “gaggle,” a term that comes from Dutch and Middle English words that mean, “to cackle” or “gather in a rowdy and disorderly manner”.
There are also additional terms for a group of geese, one of the more common types of birds typically seen in flocks in local parks, wetlands, and on golf courses.
Geese flock together for protection, whether domestic or in the wild, probably because these social birds like to be together. At least, that’s how it looks when a gaggle of geese makes frequent cackles and other sounds to communicate with each other.
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