I saw a Canada goose stuck frozen on Ramapo Lake in the Ramapo Mountain State Forest near Oakland, New Jersey. I was told that it had been dead for a while.

Can a goose freeze to the ice and get stuck? What explanation is there for how a goose could die in the middle of a frozen lake?

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    There is not really enough information to make a reasonable answer to the question, other than it froze to death. How long is "a while"? An added picture may or may not be helpful? Is there any evidence that it was attacked by some animal?
    – Ken Graham
    Commented Jan 2, 2018 at 22:17
  • I just looked up Ramapo, and it's a well-known large lake in a State Forest. (I edited that into your question.) That could give us clues. Was the dead goose near the edge, or out in deeper water? Have you seen other geese there? Do parts of that lake usually freeze? Is your weather colder than usual? The lake might be part of a migration route and this goose didn't make it. It could have been young, sick, lost, injured by man, or as Ken mentioned, an animal. Commented Jan 2, 2018 at 23:28
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    When the temperature drops below 32F water will freeze. Can get stuck in ice.
    – paparazzo
    Commented Jan 3, 2018 at 1:12
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    Geese getting frozen in place on ice is (apparently) a thing. It's not an instant thing, they can typically sit there for a while, but it can happen. Ever heard of how your tongue can freeze stuck to a metal surface? That happens because of the presence of liquid water. Geese are often wet. I ones saw a firefighter in drysuit jump through the ice into a wintery lake to save a goose. Turned out this one wasn't stuck. Normal protocol is to yell at the bird or throw stones near it to check first/prevent it from happening.
    – Monster
    Commented Jan 3, 2018 at 6:31

2 Answers 2


The most likely cause of death would be a crash landing.

When geese come in for a landing after a long flight they are exhausted and look for lakes or ponds to land on because they can glide in onto the water and come to an easy stop without much effort. For geese to land on solid ground they have to slow their speed significantly and flap a bunch before touching down or they can seriously hurt themselves. One ice geese will tend to ski out the landings a bit because they know the ice is slippery, but they still slow themselves down quite a bit before touching down.

It can be hard for geese sometimes to distinguish between a nice soft liquid lake, and frozen ice depending on the clarity of the ice when it freezes. Geese are not unaccustomed to landing on ice, but when they do they typically slow down more than they would when landing on water and ski out the landing. Tired geese are known to have rough landings every once and a while, even on water, but if they have one flying in on a frozen lake expecting it to be water, and land hard, it can sometimes result in injury, leading to death.

This is the same reason why you'll occasionally find dead geese on football fields that have blue artificial turf. They mistake the turf for a lake and come in for a rough landing.

So the most likely reason your goose is dead could be a crash landing, resulting in an injury that prevented the goose from escaping the freezing cold, which led to the goose's eventual death by exposure and freezing to the ice.


I didn't find exact number but the population seems to be more then 2 million birds with a life expectancy of 10 to 24 year that gives an average life span of 17 years or 6,205 days.

2 million birds divided by 6,205 days = 322 birds dying each day.

It is not at all surprising that there is a dead Canadian goose on lake, in fact there are hundreds of new ones every day.

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