The Canada goose is a migratory species which lives in northern parts of the northern hemisphere - including the Arctic, as well as temperate regions of North America and northern Europe. In winter we have a lot of them in the UK, which I understand are mostly resident here all the year round. Some migrate from Greenland and Iceland, in winter and a few from Canada. But for the most part they are very unlikely ever to have been in Canada.

Canada goose” is the name of the species. But I’ve noticed a tendency on the part of the BBC to refer to “Canadian geese”. Hesitating to take on the august BBC on a matter of correct terminology I believe this is quite wrong. It should be “Canada geese”. Canadian goose suggests one of no particular species which has been brought here from Canada.

Am I right?

  • 1
    Wikipedia mentions that "the Canada goose is also colloquially referred to as the "Canadian goose"." Source
    – Justin
    Jan 14 at 18:30
  • 3
    Must-see post from Outdoors StackExchange: Is the correct term Canada Goose or Canadian Goose?
    – Justin
    Jan 14 at 18:41
  • 4
    In UK the Canada goose population is mostly sedentary (they do not migrate). So they aren't "Canadian geese". I realise though, that the so-called "English muffin" does not migrate, yet it isn't called the "England muffin". Jan 14 at 18:46
  • Are you sure 'Canadian goose' is being used in the classifier (Branta canadensis) rather than the identifier (any goose from / spending most of its life in Canada'? Jan 14 at 19:32
  • @WeatherVane Thank you for your correction about the sedentary nature of the Canada goose. My wife has just pointed that out to me, with reference to a book on birds. Apparently a few genuinely wild ones do cross the Atlantic and get mixed up with our "feral" ones, as the book calls them.
    – WS2
    Jan 14 at 21:21

The poster did not provide a quotation to support his statement, so, although I do not regard the BBC as an authority on the English language, I feel obliged to come to its defence on this one. Searching the BBC News website for “Canadian geese” I only found an example of “Canada Geese”:

A local Birmingham news item dated 14th January 2022 has:

Bird flu has been confirmed in Canada geese in a city’s parks.
The A(H5N1) strain of avian influenza has been found in geese in Cannon Hill Park and Witton Lakes in Birmingham, the city council said.

And it is illustrated with a picture (from Getty images) of what I take to be a Canada goose.

Searching the BBC News website for “Canada Geese” I found more examples, although many of a single story.

So I rather think this, er, cooks the poster’s goose.


Is the BBC correct in referring to Canadian geese?

No, they are not.

Am I right?

Yes, you are.

The Canada Goose is a specific species Branta canadensis and "Canada Goose" is a proper noun.

The Iceland Gull (Larus Glaucoides) may be found in Iceland but it not called the "Icelandic Gull".

We would not call a person called "David England" "English David".

  • But 'China tea' and 'Chinese tea' are seen as synonyms. (I won't bother adding references. Though I follow ELU guidelines in doing so when writing 'answers'.) Jan 15 at 23:18

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