Don’t cross the dreaded Canadian Cobra Chicken

In the Canadian wilderness, several animals strike fear into those who come across them – bears (all bears – black, brown, polar, grizzly), snakes, coyotes, cougars and moose.

However, only one animal in this great country of ours has a reputation for viciousness and anger no matter where you cross it: the Canada goose.

Or, as the young people call them, the Canadian Cobra Chicken.

The slang term for the Canada goose gained popularity in 2018 after a post on Twitter went viral from a farm worker. As the story goes, a Mexican farm worker, whose English was not very good, was moving livestock to a pen and was hissed at by a Canada goose.

“I don’t like the cobra chicken,” he told his co-workers.

It’s a fitting term, I must say.

While working at Listowel Golf Club years ago, coming across a gaggle of Canadian geese was a regular occurrence. However, it was evident that no matter the efforts you took to rid yourself of their presence, the geese would settle in and take over an area.

And they would fight back if you crossed them.

Sometimes I would try my hand at shooing them off a green or out of a greenside bunker. The geese would stand tall, spread their wings and give me a piece of their mind.

I’d rethink my strategy, back down and continue on my way.

Over the last 16 years, the goose population at LGC has gone down drastically. Whether it’s due to the presence of the superintendent’s dog or the geese “moved into a nicer neighbourhood” is up for debate.

I’ve had two recent incidents which have iced my theory that the Canada goose is the most feared animal north of the border.

Earlier this year, my family visited Niagara Falls for a few days. While walking along the Niagara Parkway, among all of the visitors was a gaggle of Canadian geese.

The wise folks, which happened to be most of them, avoided the geese, veering left or right.

My oldest son, however, showed his lack of street smarts on this day.

Instead of following the lead of everyone around him, he decided now was the time to run – directly into the gaggle, screaming like a mad man.

The geese stood their ground, spread their wings and started hissing at him.

Then they moved towards him.

The screaming continued, this time in my direction as my son ran back towards me. Once he got away, the geese went back to their regular business.

“Never cross a Canadian cobra chicken,” I said, laughing.

“They could have killed me!” yelled my son dramatically.

I explained to him that geese are territorial creatures and will chase off anything (and anyone) they don’t want near them, such as my son on that fateful day.

The second incident was two weeks ago in Waterloo. Traffic on King Street was at a standstill as we neared the stoplight at Blue Springs Drive.

The light turned green, and traffic still didn’t move.

About a minute later, roughly two dozen Canadian geese started crossing the road.

Yes, the geese were blocking the traffic in what can be described as the most Canadian traffic jam ever.

Wisely, everyone in the vicinity stayed in their cars while the geese crossed King Street before walking down the middle of Blue Springs Drive.

We couldn’t help but laugh in the car, which my son took exception to.

“Why are you laughing? Those things are scary!” he said.

I heard a joke some time ago that explained why Canadians are generally so polite. At birth, a ritual is performed that extracts our hatred and places it in Canadian geese.

I’ll leave you with one more joke, this time from Daryl on Letterkenny.

“Well, Mike Tyson had a pretty good run of things. Do you wanna know why? No Canada gooses in his weight class.”

Sounds legit to me.


Mike Wilson is the editor of Midwestern Newspapers. In addition to being wary around the Canadian Cobra Chicken, he also has a mortal enemy in swans. Share your Canada goose encounters and other feedback with him at