Friday, August 15, 2014

Under Cover of Darkness, They Fly and Gently Land


Depressed, I was about to turn away and leave when suddenly a flock of nine flew in and landed gently on the water.
And then the geese were joined by a flock of mallards.
While it was painful to witness all three goslings perish at the Reservoir this summer and assume it was due to natural predation, it is stunning and sickening to realize they were doomed from day one due to the "Get the Flock Out!" goose harassment and egg destruction policies of Central and other NYC parks. (See previous blog entries.)
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Tonight I looked out over a silent and desolate, Jackie Onassis Reservoir with no water birds on it.
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Depressed and feeling hopeless, I turned to leave when suddenly a flock of 9 geese flew in and landed on the water to roost for the evening.
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Less than a minute after the geese enthusiastically arrived, a flock of mallards also flew in and landed close to the geese.  (This after USDA "Wildlife Services" claimed that one of the reasons they killed all the geese at PP in 2010 was because they kept out the ducks. What an outrageous lie that is.) 
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They are all in a battle for their lives in New York City and the geese and mallards seem to know it. 
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And yet, with perennial determination and will to carry on, they float wistfully through clouds and with the cover of darkness, to gently land on water and joyfully announce, "We are here! We are here!"
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Hope springs eternal -- even through the otherwise madness, intolerance and blindness of our own species. -- PCA 
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Writing on the Wall for Geese and Other Wildlife of New York City Parks?


The two miracle goslings of the Boat Lake in Central Park with parents bringing up the rear. Sadly, the Reservoir goslings were ultimately among the many human created casualties. These goslings only hatched due to sheer determination and extraordinary efforts of the parents.
One of the seven-week-old goslings. 
"Daddy" keeping watch while mom and babies graze.
It appears that Hansel and Greta, the bereaved parents of the three ill-fated goslings from the Jackie Onassis Reservoir in Central Park have finally given up all hope for their last lost youngster and left the Reservoir -- presumably to join with other geese and find better food sources.  
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They however, deserve great respect and admiration for not having abandoned Remy,  their last gosling, when it was abundantly clear to them she would not ultimately survive. 
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The reason for proclaiming the above is based upon a visit to the Boat Lake in Central Park yesterday and finally seeing the family with two goslings there. 
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These goslings hatched on June 28th -- more than three weeks after the three goslings at the Reservoir.
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When arriving to the area of Bow Bridge yesterday, I saw, what appeared to be a flock of four adult geese in the water.
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But, as they swam closer, two of the geese were slightly smaller and one had bits of down still on her head.  It was clear this was the family of four.
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I was able to get many photos of the family as they were never more than a couple of feet apart from each other, whether on water or land. The parents were extremely watchful and protective of their young ones.  
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The nearly seven-week-old, Boat Lake goslings are almost fully grown, robust and strong, with developed flight feathers and adult coloring -- including clearly defined chin straps and pure white bottoms and bellies.  They appear ready to fly.
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Tragically, though she was far older than the Boat Lake goslings, we did not see such rapid (and normal) development in Remy, the last gosling at the Reservoir. On the contrary, Remy was only slightly larger than mallards and was still covered in mostly yellowish down with colors only starting to change and wings beginning to develop when she suddenly perished ten days ago. 
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Most startling however, regarding the Reservoir goose family, was that the behavior of the three goslings (and parents, to some degree) was never consistent with what we almost always see in goose families.
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I tried to attribute the atypical behavior to parents possibly being very young or goslings being unusually adventurous and independent. But, all along I had concerns about what seemed the slow growth and development of the hatchlings (though only having witnessed two other goose families in the past to compare it to).  I guess I didn't want to believe anything was seriously wrong.
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But, it is very clear now that something definitely affected or interfered with the development of the Reservoir goslings -- probably while they were still in the eggs. And it is also apparent that the parents were aware of something wrong, but they obviously could not know what.  Out of duty and devotion, the parents stayed with their weakened offspring despite all the odds against them.
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Some will disagree, but I'm personally convinced that the developing babies were deprived of oxygen while in the eggs -- something that occurs in egg addling. (When "successful," egg addling results in suffocation of the developing embryo.)
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One thing we do know is that this failure to thrive had absolutely nothing to do with  raccoons, snapping turtles or any other animal predator.
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The fact is, these three goslings were doomed from the very moment they hatched.
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Though predators may have contributed to or hastened actual deaths in the end, the goslings would never have survived through the other challenges of nature. It's quite likely they never would have been able to fly as their bodies lacked the strength and robustness apparent in goslings far younger than them.
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That one gosling survived for two months suffering impairment was perhaps a miracle in itself.  We can only hope these pitiful little babies got to enjoy a little of life -- though this had to be ultimately far more heart wrenching for the parents than had the eggs never hatched at all.
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Some have doubted my claims about egg addling at the Central Park Reservoir, but as previously noted, more than 30 goose eggs have been laid at the Reservoir over the past two years and only three hatched. Moreover, two nesting hens died from unknown illness this year shortly after laying eggs.
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And we now know now that something obviously affected and/or interfered with the development of the three Reservoir hatchlings -- something not due to animal predation.
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Returning to the Boat lake goose family, it should be noted that "Lady," (the Mother goose), laid ten eggs before these two finally hatched.  The first clutch of five eggs were lost in rain storm. A second clutch of three eggs disappeared.  Finally, Lady apparently laid two more and these eggs hatched even to the great surprise of a dedicated goose watcher. (Guess is, that it was not anticipated by Geese Police either that the hen would lay more eggs. -- These parents were very determined.) I credit my friend, Liliana for insuring that Lady and her "Man" were always well nourished even through the harsh winter. It's amazing the hen did not take ill for all the egg laying and forgoing of food.
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I share this important information in order that we not seek natural explanation for why these goslings and two nesting hens ultimately died at Reservoir this summer and spring as there was nothing "natural" about them.  While we may not know exactly what happened and when, we can eliminate blame for actual deaths to normal animal predations (as the Central Park Conservancy tried to do in "explaining" the death of Floozie, the second nesting and dead goose).  
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Its of course possible the two deceased nesting hens lacked proper nutrition and fat reserves for nesting rigors. Its also possible goslings suffered developmental impairment while in the eggs due to poor nutrition of the hen and/or genetic mutation.  
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But, adding everything up over the years, my personal deduction for such wide scale destruction is egg addling (in addition to nearly year-round goose harassment in Central Park). 
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Too many losses over the past two years to merely attribute to the whims of nature.
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Over the past two days, I have visited nearly all of the Central Park watercourses and have been shocked to find barely any ducks or geese on any of them with the exception of the Boat Lake. (There are also three other geese at the Boat Lake.) 
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It was only a few years ago when Central Park lakes and ponds would be filled with hundreds of mallards this time of year and many dozens of geese. That there are less than ten geese in all of Central Park now and only a few dozen ducks is positively stunning and unexplainable.   Apparently, as the geese go, so go most of the ducks.
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I (like others) did not want to believe that "my" park would embark on a program of zero tolerance for Canada geese, but it appears from all indications, that is exactly what is slowly happening in Central Park.  If the policy is to destroy all known goose eggs, then that alone will result in the elimination of all resident geese within five years or so as geese almost always return to their places of hatching.
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While encouraging to realize two healthy goslings hatched this year due to the sheer determination and extraordinary efforts of the parents, the fact is, two are not enough to carry on the species over the ensuing years.
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The writing is on the wall for Canada geese, not just in Central Park, but all NYC parks.
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The question is, is it also on the wall for ducks and other wildlife of our city parks?
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Among this morning's emails is one from the Central Park Conservancy boasting of their upcoming "Film Festival" in addition to various tours and improvement of the Reservoir running path.
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But, there is no mention of wildlife of any kind nor the nearly year round harassment and  destruction of the young of Canada geese.
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Perhaps it is ultimately what is not written that ultimately shouts volumes. -- PCA
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Monday, August 11, 2014

Cruel Summers at Jackie Onassis Reservoir in Central Park


Jackie Onassis Reservoir in Central Park. Beneath a beautiful picture, sadness and continued loss.
Remy in one of last photos taken of her. A day later, she mysteriously vanished and has not been seen since.
Hansel and Greta, bereaved goose parents lingering and searching, but seemingly resigned to still another loss.
We are trying to grapple with and make sense of the unexplainable.  Anything is possible, but little, if anything makes sense.
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I am writing particularly of the loss this past week of the last of the three goslings (Remy) from the Jackie Onassis Reservoir in Central Park.
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Remy's two other siblings vanished and mysteriously perished weeks earlier.  Like them, Remy also mysteriously vanished and it is difficult to figure reason why, especially considering Remy's age and size. At the time of her disappearance, Remy was larger than a mallard and was just beginning to sprout wings (though not yet capable of flying).  
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Others are speculating raccoon or snapping turtle attacks. Such explanation might seem plausible were it not for such extreme egg and goose losses over the past two years at the Reservoir.
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During the past two years, 8 pairs of geese have attempted to nest at Reservoir. Two nesting hens died within weeks of each other this year and over the two years, only three goslings hatched out of more than 30 eggs laid. Add to that, the losses of all three goslings within two months of hatching this year. 
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To me, these kinds of extreme and unnatural losses are not explained by snapping turtles or raccoons alone. Though I have seen snapping turtles at the Central Park Boat Lake and been told they exist at Reservoir, I have never actually seen one there. As for raccoons, I have never seen one even succeed at stealing an egg as goose pairs put up strong defense of eggs and goslings.
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We know for a fact, egg addling (oiling goose eggs so they fail to hatch due to oxygen deprivation) occurs at the other watercourses of Central Park under the auspices of the Central Park Conservancy and has been for some years. The Reservoir is under the watch and control of the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), but it is presumed egg addling occurs there too, due to the large number of goose eggs (over 30) that failed to hatch at the Reservoir over the past two years.
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Nevertheless, three eggs (out of four laid) did hatch at the Reservoir this year.
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At first it was speculated that since the goose pair nested a little late, it was possible that the eggs were missed and we thus had, "miracle goslings!"
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But, now with all three goslings perishing within two months of hatching, I personally suspect that the eggs had indeed been tampered with, but for whatever reason, 3 of the 4 eggs hatched anyway.
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But, could it be that these goslings were doomed from the very start from having suffered some oxygen deprivation early in their development?
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From the very beginning of their hatching, the goose family appeared very "different" from two other goose families previously observed.
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For one matter, the family was far less structured than other goose families, with goslings frequently wandering off (in one case, for nearly a full day) and the parents appearing to be less in control and less attentive and vigilant in terms of protection and discipline than other goose parents. 
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Was it possible that the goose parents knew or sensed something amiss that we casual human observers could not? 
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That of course is impossible to know because none of us can get inside of the geese's heads.
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The parents, while attending to perfunctory duties of parenthood did not appear (to me) of being that engaged with their offspring. It was almost as if they were preparing themselves for loss.
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I recently shared these troubling events with a woman who is a syndicated and investigative journalist and goose expert.  She also suspects egg addling "has something to do with it" though I told her raccoons are in the area and snapping turtles in Central Park.
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Nevertheless, there are others who are convinced raccoons or snapping turtles are the culprits in these losses.  While I acknowledge that predators might have contributed to or hastened goose, egg or gosling deaths, they just don't explain at this point, the long list of egg losses, nesting goose deaths, unusual goose parental and gosling behavior and finally, the death and disappearance of the last gosling, Remy.  Predators are lucky to get one or two eggs or goslings. They don't usually wipe out entire families.  
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Still, the bottom line is, none of us knows for sure what has happened.  There are different theories and any could be partially right or wrong and perhaps even all are factors.  It's simply been painful to witness these unusual and tragic losses and not know specifically what's gone so terribly wrong.
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Presently, Hansel and Greta (the goose parents) still remain at the Reservoir. They have spent the last four days seemingly in search of their last gosling, but now appear somewhat resigned to still another loss. I suspect that when finally giving up all hope, they will probably leave the Reservoir as it is not an ideal place in terms of low natural food supplies and rough terrain for year round stay.  
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In summation, its been a rough and cruel two past summers at the Reservoir in Central Park.
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Loss of Remy is particularly distressing as there seemed real hope that she might survive after having made it this long.
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But, apparently, it was never meant to be.
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As said, lots of possibilities and theories, but few, if any making sense.
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That only the geese could actually talk to us.   -- PCA
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Monday, August 4, 2014

Recovery for Humans and Geese


Lilly eating from Liliana's hand about a week before becoming ill and requiring rescue last month.
Hard to see then, but Lilly was suffering from low levels of lead poisoning and malnutrition.
Remy, the surviving gosling from Jackie Onassis Reservoir in Central Park going through "awkward" stage.-- All neck and legs.
Remy quickly gaining goose colors, tail and soon to sprout wings.
 "Good advice that you just didn't take."  (Such is line from the Alanis Morissette song, "Isn't it Ironic?")
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I recall years ago, my daughter telling me more than once, "Mom, when you're picking up something heavy, you need to use your legs, not your back!"
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The advice was a million miles away when picking up a heavy bag last week and suddenly feeling the vertebrae in my back depart and go someplace else.
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I was good for nothing the rest of the week as the pain was so incredible as to make the simple acts of tying a shoe lace or picking something up from the floor intolerable.
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This impacted especially my relationship with animals.
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I have two elderly, 20 lb dogs (Tina, who is nearly 21-years-old and Chance who is 17) who both need to be carried up the stairs when taken for a walk.  Fortunately, there is only one flight of stairs to climb to my apartment, but it might as well be ten.  
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The past week has been comprised of trying to figure minimally painless ways to pick  puppy pads up from the floor (deep knee bends) and moving as little as possible. This also meant drastically curtailing time spent in front of computer as it felt like all the bones in my spine were crushingly compressing.
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When people talk of "back pain" it is truly nothing to sneeze at, was quickly learned the hard way and literally.   A few nights ago, when feeling momentarily better, I suddenly sneezed and once again, the vertebrae suddenly departed and I was back to square one -- or more precisely, back in bed (and not in fun way).
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Lucky for me, a couple of very good friends came by on Saturday to help supply with pet food, Advil and even walk my dogs.
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From there, the road to recovery has been slow and delicate, but steady -- to the point, I am finally able to write a blog entry today without experiencing the tortures of the damned.
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But, what has been most interesting throughout this ordeal was the way I was seemingly able to "train my" few remaining geese at the Jackie Onassis Reservoir in Central Park to come to me, rather than me going to them. (One of the other things that had to be drastically curtailed were daily walks in the park as anything more than a half hour of standing or walking was excruciating.)
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Virtually all of the 25 geese who molted at the Reservoir over the past 6 to 7 weeks departed as of this past week.  (This, despite my feeding them throughout the molt.)   The only three geese remaining now are the family, Hansel, Greta and their two-month-old gosling, Remy.
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Remy is of course, not able to fly yet (and won't be for at least another month) and so the family, for all intents and purposes is rooted to the Reservoir for now -- though certainly not always together.
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As has been the case from day one of her hatching, the independent Remy still likes to wander and explore on her own and her hippie-like, modern goose parents still give her free reign to do so.  I have given up all hope that this particularly goose family will ever be "normal," but at least during my personal week of physical trial and tribulation, they were more than accommodating and seemingly empathetic.  
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Wherever they are on the Reservoir when I arrive each evening, the family quickly hurries over when seeing me, the daddy of the group, even flying towards my face one night.
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I barely need to walk far beyond the 90th Street entrance to the park and that has been (and is) huge relief.  (Who says geese aren't aware and compassionate to human needs?)
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I am also hugely relieved that Hansel and Greta didn't just up and take off with all the other geese and leave their one surviving baby behind.   While they may not be the most attentive and dedicated goose parents ever seen, they at least have some sense of parental duty and responsibility.
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Remy is growing very fast now and her colors rapidly changing to look more like a goose, though still at the "awkward" (all neck and legs) stage. She is a little bigger than the mallards now and sometimes appears that she thinks herself a mallard by frequently swimming with them.  Sadly, there were no other surviving goslings at the Reservoir this summer and as noted, all the other geese have left.  So, perhaps it is not too surprising, the seeming "kinship" between Remy and the ducks.  Remy's parents, though devoted to each other, are very "wings off" and minimalist regarding their surviving child. Hopefully and presumably, they will at least teach Remy how to fly when the time comes.
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In other good news, "Lilly," the goose who had to be rescued from the Central Park Boat Lake last month has recovered at The Wild Bird Fund from lead poisoning and malnutrition and is ready for release.
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Rita, Director of WBF, called a couple of days ago and we discussed Lilly's release.
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While normally birds are released to the site they were rescued from, in this particular case, decision was made for Lilly to go to an estate upstate where hopefully she will survive better than she was at the Boat Lake in CP. Lilly was a "loner" goose at the Boat Lake (without mate or flock) and was subjected to all kinds of stress and harassment (dogs, fishing, boats, hostile people and Geese Police) and its unlikely the goose family presently there with two goslings would warmly welcome her.  According to Rita, the estate is very peaceful and safe and there are other geese who hopefully will eventually accept Lilly.
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I later discussed this decision with Liliana (Lilly's rescuer) and she too agreed that, under the circumstances, Lilly was better off going to the estate as her brief stint at the Boat Lake nearly culminated in her death. The fact was, as a loner goose, Lilly simply wasn't doing well there, despite Liliana's monitoring and care. Geese are flock birds who need other geese.
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There are unfortunately, few places in NYC these days that welcome any geese at all -- including regrettably, Central Park.  It was a tough and difficult decision, but we all believe in the particular case of Lilly, the right one.
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So, all and all, an eventful week.
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Now flighted geese leaving their molting locations to gather and prepare for fall migrations, growing goslings changing colors and just beginning to sprout wings that will later take them on exciting adventures and slow and delicate healing for an old lady and a loner goose.
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One learns gratitude during times like these.  Gratitude to good friends, "empathetic" geese and to those dedicated and talented people who know how to take an animal from the brink of death to "going to the door" in search of freedom and release.
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On the latter note, please support The Wild Bird Fund for without it, thousands of birds (and other wildlife) in peril would have no place to go in NYC for treatment and expert, tender care:
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As for this "old lady" in recovery, I will better remember the words of the Alanis Morissette song (and my daughter) when lifting heavy items and gratefully walk my dogs tonight.  --PCA
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Friday, July 25, 2014

Beginning of End for Culture of "Shoot, Shut-Up and Shovel?"




"Shoot, Shut-Up and Shovel" no longer acceptable as policy towards Canada geese and other American wildlife.
"Our Facebook page lit up after we aired the controversial story of almost two dozen geese killed at a La Grange city park."
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So are the words from the Editorial staff at WHAS News 11 from Louisville, Kentucky where a few days ago, 22 geese were shot to death in a public park on apparent directives from the mayor.
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Something very interesting is being observed over the past few weeks:
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That is, the community outrage being expressed from Maine to Ohio and especially, Kentucky over clandestine goose slaughters occurring without public notification and/or input.  
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It was eye opening to go to the WHAS (News 11) FB page and read the seemingly endless comments regarding this particular news story.  "Lit up" would seem understatement as I was personally unable to get through them all.   More than 90% of the comments were adamantly opposed to the killings and one was even from a Councilman complaining of "no notification" and input from City Council.    Fascinating stuff especially coming from what is often derisively called, "redneck (conservative) country."
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Contrarily, when government and USDA WS conducted goose gassings at Prospect Park (New York) in 2010, there were hundreds of comments on the New York Times article pages.  But, at least half of them supported the carnage. 
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It is not clear if this signifies we are finally making progress towards turning the tide around on government led wildlife massacres across the country or people are just "different" in New York City where we seem to want government to do everything for us, short of wiping our tushies.
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But, for sure, general public sentiment and support for secretive USDA WS and other government sponsored goose slaughters have taken a substantial hit over the past couple of years and that has been true from the east coast to the west and north to south.  
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Perhaps out greatest challenge now is to try and organize that public outrage into something cohesive and effective in terms of pressuring public officials and letting government leaders know that quite simply, "We're not going to take it anymore."
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Clandestine, government-led wildlife massacres in public parks and other city properties are something no longer tolerated by a culture that likes to consider itself, civilized, transparent and humane. 
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On the latter and extremely important note, it is past time for the American electorate to stand up and demand that something be done to limit tax funding and otherwise reign in and hold accountable for lethal and sinister actions, USDA "Wildlife Services" (APHIS). 
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It is encouraging that some former agents and employees of this rogue agency are finally coming out and sharing their stories:
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The above 30-minute film is disturbing and chilling, but the information shared, invaluable. 
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This is not, after all, PETA railing about government cruelty to animals, but rather, professional trappers and hunters for whom, barbarity and carnage apparently have their limits.  
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The culture of "Shoot, Shut Up and Shovel" needs to end, whether it be as motto for USDA Wildlife (Extermination) Services or deadly, clandestine actions conducted in an otherwise peaceful Kentucky park. -- PCA
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Thursday, July 24, 2014

Lift Off! -- The Dreaded Season of the Molt Finally Ending



Lift off!  Geese again flying and celebrating the end of the cursed season of the molt.
At long last the dreaded molting season is coming to an end and geese are once again, taking to the air.
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I say, "dreaded molting season" because if there is one curse on Canada geese, it is that for six weeks of the year they are incapable of flight and thus become easy targets for not only USDA WS slaughters, but shootings in other parts of the country, as well as an endless barrage of negative press articles.
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Two very recent examples of negative press articles are below:
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The first article, "Neighbors Upset Over Killing of Geese in Public Park" is self-explanatory and unfortunately, all too common.  Two dozen geese shot to death in a Kentucky park without notification to or input from the community.  Once again, the same old excuses and fear mongering, (geese are a "health threat") and once again, a bewildered and distraught public whose complaints will be easily dismissed and blown off.
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The second article, "Geese Honk at Lights Designed to Scare Them Away" is however, more complex and quite frankly baffling.  While geese were not targeted for slaughter in this Texas park, they have been continually subjected to harassment with laser lights and noise cannons. Town officials are perplexed with why the harassment methods "did not work to scare the geese away."  (They are apparently demanding money back from lighting company.)
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Apparently, officials did not know and were not informed of the six week molting period in which geese cannot fly anywhere -- even if one were to hurl H-bombs at them!
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One can only shake one's head when realizing the amount of ignorance and myths out there concerning these constantly maligned birds and the seeming unwillingness to actually do some research and learn basic biology.
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Another myth that prevails despite overwhelming evidence against it is the contention that geese "stay in a location because people feed them."
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There is no doubt that (like humans and other animals) geese greatly enjoy treats that are offered to them by occasional humans. Add to that, their general sociability and trust with humans and it might appear that (especially during the molt) geese are "overstaying their welcome" because of human feeders. 
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But, the fact is that geese are not now nor have they ever been, dependent upon humans for food.
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As mostly vegetarians, geese have to consume large amounts of plant and aquatic foods to survive.  They literally eat throughout most of the day (except when nesting or "hunkering down" through particularly severe weather). Unless humans were feeding them 24/7 or a goose is injured and flightless, there is little way for geese to become entirely dependent upon humans for their sustenance and survival.
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Yet, there are many communities that wrongly believe that it is human feeders who are responsible for an alleged "overpopulation" of geese and that all that is necessary to "manage" goose population is to criminalize the feeding of them.
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But, "No Feeding" policies have little if any impact at all upon goose populations and when these inevitably fail, too many communities (such as Mill Creek Park in Ohio) contract with USDA WS for goose slaughter. Controlled kill conducted on Canada geese at Mill Creek Park | WKBN.com
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As the evidence shows time and time again (as it has in Central Park, NYC) the methods that effectively work to limit and contain goose populations are, habitat modification, harassment with Border Collies, egg addling and some presence of natural egg predators, such as raccoons.  (Anyone reading this blog on a regular basis will know I have personally complained about these policies in fact, working too well in CP causing fear that our Central Park resident goose population might be eliminated entirely within ten years due to attrition of aging geese.)
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The bottom line to all this is that (whether fed or not by humans), when the dreaded molt season finally ends and geese regain their flight feathers, most of them are happily off to the skies and new challenges awaiting them according to their biological clock and drives.
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In fact, yesterday morning when going to the Reservoir in Central Park, at least half of the 25 geese there during the molt had apparently packed their newly feathered wings and taken off. Whether that was to simply "pond hop" and test out their wings or actually leave Central Park for the remainder of the summer is not yet known, but for sure, some are starting to leave the molt location now. Some geese may temporarily return, but most won't -- until next year.
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In summary, the geese can finally enjoy a few weeks out of the year of relative peace and serenity.  USDA WS goose slaughters are temporarily ended.  The whining and hysterical articles about "goose poop" and "health threats" will begin to abate.  And in most locations, harassment has yet to begin again.
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But, rest assured the respite is only very temporary.
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Next month, (August), "early goose hunting seasons" begin in many locations.  Stayed tuned for all the "fun" outdoors columns on those.
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And finally, pity the geese that they have so few weeks out of the entire year to actually relax and catch their breaths. 
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But thankfully, these upcoming few weeks are among them. -- PCA
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Saturday, July 19, 2014

Modern Goose Family -- A Seeming Anomaly


Remy, learning hard and fast, the lessons of life.
Alone and dazed on water after hard fall, Remy had to tough it out.  
Remy once again, reunited with parents -- at least for time being.
Hansel and Greta with Remy in background. "We don't have to share our parental secrets with you! We know what we're doing!"
Dinnertime.

The common adage goes, "Be careful of what you wish for. You might get it."
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Concerned about the sharply declining resident goose population in Central Park over the past five years, in addition to aggressive goose harassment and egg destruction policies, I worried that there would be no geese at CP within 5 to 10 years. Put simply, new goslings were not being allowed to hatch to replace those geese lost to attrition in the near future.
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It was however, pleasing and very exciting to note that despite the odds against it, three tiny goslings hatched at the Jackie Onassis Reservoir in early June!
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But, right from the start, there was something very "different" about the particular goose family -- an anomaly, so to speak .
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For one matter, the parent geese, ("Hansel and Greta") had the little ones swimming virtually the entire circumference of the mile and a quarter Reservoir within hours of their hatching and covering every nook and cranny amongst the jagged rocks surrounding it.
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Even more striking than the physical workout the newly hatched (and exhausted) babies were being subjected to, was the fact, the family did not swim in typical goose formation (straight line with one parent leading and the other anchoring the back with goslings in protected middle.)  Rather, these parents simply took off on their own and the hatchlings were forced to follow, often trailing behind or wandering far off from the free-wheeling and seemingly "lackadaisical" parents.  

I and other goose watchers worried constantly over the seeming lack of vigilance and protection the three goose babies were getting from their parents. It was typical to frequently see Hansel and Greta with only one or two goslings and have to search for the missing other(s).
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One evening, one of the tiny goslings even strayed so far from the family as to end up spending the night tagging along with another goose flock on the water. Fortunately, the next morning he was reunited back with the family, though it isn't clear if the unrelated goose flock led and dropped him off on the parents (with stern message) or Hansel and Greta actually sought him out. 
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Under these strange and unusual circumstances, it should have come as no surprise that we sadly lost two of the three goslings within a month of their hatching -- one of them within the last two weeks.
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Since then, I have worried about the lone, surviving gosling, "Remy."
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Poor Remy.  Now alone with no other siblings or even goslings on the entire watercourse, she has to try and make her way in an entirely adult world that is not always so attentive and caring towards her.
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As for Remy's parents, they have seemingly made few sacrifices to accommodate for the fact they still have a little one to look after and protect. When the mood strikes, they go and it is Remy's responsibility to follow and try to keep up. While Hansel has always demonstrated devotion and fierce protection towards his mate, Greta, his devotion towards his one surviving baby is far more questionable and mysterious.
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At no time has this parental, "whatever will be, will be" attitude towards their offspring been more pronounced than the last week.
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Earlier, we had several rain storms in NYC which presumably left the rocks wet and slippery. 
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Though somewhat common to see one of the geese or goslings take a tumble on the rocks, they usually pick themselves up immediately and appear to be more embarrassed than actually hurt.
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But, while running across rocks, Remy slipped and tumbled, head first, somersaulting backwards at least three times before finally landing hard in the water.
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My heart leapt to throat when witnessing such a hard fall for the little one, but she appeared to have no serious or visible injury.
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But, Remy was definitely stunned and shaken up.
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For a long time, Remy remained alone in the water seemingly dazed and listless, barely moving.
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Her parents (true to form) paid no mind to the event and simply continued grazing on the rocks with other geese as if nothing happened.
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The scene reminded me of how two formerly nesting geese appeared on the water shortly before they died and I truly thought I was seeing the last of our precious little Remy.
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But, of course there was no way to rescue Remy at the fenced-in Reservoir and I could not be certain she was actually in mortal danger or even seriously hurt.
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And so, I decided to go home and return later in the day to check on Remy.
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I returned to the Reservoir about 6 PM that day totally prepared for the worst. I would either not see Remy at all or would see her small, lifeless body floating on the water.
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But, shock of shocks, Remy was again swimming a few feet behind her parents and appeared to be perfectly fine and healthy as if nothing had happened! 
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Once again, Remy confidently bounded upon the rocks with her parents to graze, all memory of past trauma seemingly behind her. I could even imagine Remy's self-focused, "modern" parents looking up and laughing at me. "See?  What were you worried about? We knew she'd be OK. If she makes it, she makes it. If not, well, it wasn't meant to be.  She has to learn life the hard way!  We don't baby our kids!"
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Last night too, I did not see the family at all when first going around the Reservoir and was once again convinced that we had lost our last precious gosling.
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But, then Hansel and Greta finally showed with Remy trailing a few feet behind.
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By that time, I was past my nineteenth nervous breakdown with this particular goose family which, from day one has never been "typical."
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Now, with the molting season soon to end and adult geese to regain their flight feathers, I worry if Hansel and Greta will simply take off with the other geese, leaving poor flightless Remy behind to "learn life the hard way?"  After all, self sacrifice (for the sake of their kids) doesn't seem to be these parents thing.
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Of all the nesting geese at Central Park this year who either died or whose eggs were oiled and failed to hatch, how ironic was it that these two actually nested successfully? 
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Or, was it really so ironic at all?
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One wonders if there is reason for this miracle hatching, other than luck and/or randomness? Moreover, what could account for this seeming change in "normal" parental goose behavior?  Are Hansel and Greta simply "bad" or youthful, inexperienced goose parents?  Or, is this change in parental style some kind of peculiar adaptation to the stresses that most geese have to endure these days from hunting pressures, to cullings, to harassment and egg destruction?
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Could it be that some "modern" goose parents now surmise that their goslings have to learn toughness and independence from day one in order to ultimately survive?  Are they willing to lose most of their offspring in order to insure that the ones who do survive are capable of withstanding anything, including near parental detachment? 
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I don't personally know the answers to any of the above questions as nothing observed in this particular goose family resembles that previously observed and reported in others.
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But, I do know that what was wished for and actually occurred, turned out to be nothing of what was actually anticipated or expected.
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Rather, this "modern" goose family has mostly served to raise an infinite number of questions that could only be answered by observations of and comparisons to others.
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For the moment, Hansel and Greta are keeping their secrets and keeping this one perplexed goose watcher guessing and worried for their one surviving baby.
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If Remy makes it to adulthood, that will be the real miracle as she will have survived everything, including parental detachment. -- PCA
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