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Homemade Nest Sites for Giant Canada Geese


Placement sites for the nesting structures and floating platforms should be selected well in advance of the fall or winter season. It is important to obtain landowner permission and become familiar with the roads and the pond or wetland before winter.

The location of the nesting structure(s) and floating platform can vary depending on the type of water area, size of the water area, and the configuration of the shoreline. The structures can be placed in either natural or man-made water areas that are permanent or semi-permanent in nature. These would include natural wetlands, stock ponds, or reservoirs that hold water throughout the summer.

North Dakota and Gjersing structures have similar placement guidelines. The best time to erect these nesting structures is during the winter months when one can work on the ice. Nesting structures can be erected during the summer, but working from a boat is much more difficult. Generally the time to begin is in December, once ice is thick enough to support people and equipment. A hole must be cut in the ice so the nesting structure support pipes can be driven into the bottom of the wetland. The following table will assist you in determining how much weight ice can support. The ice must be clear and blue.

Ice Thickness
Permissible Load
Less than 2"
One person on foot
Group in single file
7 1/2"
2 ton truck gross (car or snowmobile)
2 1/2 ton truck gross
3 1/2 ton truck gross
8 ton truck gross
If the ice is soft and slushy you will need twice the ice thickness to insure safety. Beware of crossing rivers, beaver lodges and lakes at their inlets and outlets since the flow of water under ice impedes freezing.

Nesting structures should be placed where they will be least affected by ice action. This would usually be a sheltered bay or arm of the water area or along the shoreline from which the prevailing winds blow. Nesting structures placed in or adjacent to available emergent vegetation such as cattail or bulrush are less likely to be affected by ice action. A small open-water area within a stand of emergent vegetation is a good location for a nesting structure.

There are several other important factors to remember when selecting locations for nesting structures. Select a location where the water is at least a foot deep. It is also important that the support pipes be high enough to keep the nest dry during high water periods. In most cases, support pipes extending 3 to 6 feet above the normal water level would be sufficient.

Do not place the structures where cattle may rub on them causing them to tip. It is also advisable to avoid water areas with appreciable fishing or boating activity and areas near homes and other places where human activity might disturb nesting geese. If there are other choices, ponds surrounded by trees or those which frequently dry up should be avoided.

Canada geese are very territorial during the breeding season, and placement of nesting structures in close proximity to one another may cause fighting and disrupt nesting by either or both pairs. Therefore, multiple nest structures placed on large water areas should be as far apart as possible and no closer than 100 yards. Locate the structures so that a goose on one structure cannot see another goose nesting site.

It is critical that both the North Dakota and Gjersing structure support pipes be firmly driven into the marsh bottom (Figure 11). Canada geese will avoid wobbly structures. Support pipes should be driven into the bottom so they move an inch or less each time they are struck full force. If the support pipes move more than an inch or can be twisted or pulled by hand, move them closer to shore where there will be a thinner layer of soft bottom material.

Avoid creating trails during placement. Such trails will serve as travel lanes, drawing predators to the nest site.

JPG - Placement of Nesting Structures
Fig. 11. The best time to begin installing nesting structures is in December once the ice is thick enough to support people and equipment. (G. Enyeart)

Floating Nesting Platforms are generally used on reservoirs or larger water areas where it is not practical to use elevated structures because of ice action or extreme fluctuations in water levels. Experience has shown that the floating platforms should be placed in sheltered bays or other protected situations. If this is not done, ice action during the spring break-up may push them up on shore. When this happens it is difficult to dislodge them from the shoreline and move them back over water. A substantial anchor must be used to hold the platform in place. One wildlife agency made satisfactory anchors by pouring concrete into 5-gallon pails. Before the concrete hardened, a metal loop was inserted on the top side to provide a place to attach the nylon rope to the anchor. Two 8-inch concrete blocks attached to the end of the nylon rope have been used to provide a satisfactory anchor. When two blocks are used it is advisable to secure them together with a short piece of chain and then tie the nylon rope to the chain. This prevents the sharp corners of the cement blocks from rubbing against and cutting the nylon rope. Wire cable is not recommended as an anchor tie because it rusts and does not last as long as the nylon rope.

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