Picture of Geese

Meet the Charles River White Geese

The Charles River White Geese have lived free for 25 years on state parkland in Cambridge, Massachusetts. In the early 1980s a worker at the Mass. Water Resources Administration (MWRA) pumping station by the Boston University (BU) Bridge brought a small group of geese to the river as guard animals when the plant's guard dog died.

photo of White Geese
The White Geese at their destroyed nesting area. They have been confined to this land, eroded after the Department of Conservation and Recreation “restoration” in 1999, since 2004.
© 2005 Friends of the White Geese.

The White Geese are neither farm animals nor pets, but free animals who have survived for generations among the muskrats, red-tailed hawks, and other river dwellers, to serve as sentinels. (Click here for more on geese as sentinels.)

They are a mixed urban group, mostly hybrids descended from White China, Emden, and Toulouse geese, themselves descended from wild China Swan Geese and Greylags, among others. So not all of the White Geese are actually white.

Photo of Goslings
Goslings at the nesting area.
© 2005 Kathy Podgers.

Like the Canada geese, the Charles River White Geese are vegetarians. Visitors enjoy feeding the White Geese, but their primary food has been grass along the river from Magazine Beach to the Hyatt Hotel in Cambridge. Since 2004, when Cambridge and the DCR barred the White Geese from these fields, the White Geese have relied on their friends to provide them with food. (Click here for Attacks on the geese, here for how to help.)