goose, common name for large wild and domesticated swimming birds related to the duck and the swan. Strictly speaking, the term goose is applied to the female and gander to the male. In North America the wild (or Canada) goose, Branta canadensis, is known by its honking call and by the migrating V-shaped flocks in spring and fall. Other wild geese are the brant (any species of the genus Branta, particularly B. bernicla ) and the blue, snow, and white-fronted (or laughing) geese. Among the domestic geese are the popular Toulouse (or gray) goose (descended from the graylag, Anser anser, of Europe), the African goose, the Embden goose, and the Asian breeds (developed from the wild Chinese goose). Geese were raised in ancient times by the Romans and other Europeans and were sacred in Egypt 4,000 years ago. Forcible feeding is used to fatten geese and to enlarge the liver for use in making pâté de foie gras. Geese are classifed in the phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Aves, order Anseriformes, family Anatidae.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.