Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Wonders of Canadian Geese

(Pictures: Daddy keeping vigilance while Mom and babies eat. The babies growing everyday -- especially, their spindly legs and feet! Daddy signaling the family to get in the water....leading the way.)
One of the truly great joys for me over the past week has been the discovering of the Canadian Goose family in Central Park.

I take my dogs every morning to observe and photograph them and to revel in the fast and amazing changes.

In less than a week, the six goslings are growing at a phenomenal pace -- especially their spindly legs and black, webbed feet.

They walk, they run and they swim. And although they make attempts to flap their tiny wings (in what really is a comical scene) when they run, they are still too young to fly.

But, if I find the baby Canadian Geese adorable, funny and fascinating, I am totally swept in and intrigued by the gosling's devoted and protective parents -- especially, the "Daddy" goose.

Daddy is on constant vigilance. Head high in the air, listening, watching and turning in all directions to carefully monitor any possible threats.

If my dogs get too close, Daddy Goose will spread his wings and begin to charge while making a "hissing" sound. I quickly pull Tina and Chance back.

Mama goose seems less cautious and will often approach me to take bread from my hand. She too, however, is protective of her babies and will occasionally "hiss" at my dogs.

The family is moving around a lot more now. They swim in the pond and sometimes I have to look for them. They seem to be going a lot more "public" now, wandering around on some of the public parts surrounding Turtle Pond.

This worries me somewhat especially in the early morning hours (when dogs are allowed to run off leash) or those occasions when the park might draw some unsavory characters.

But, I imagine the parent geese know a lot more than I do.

If Daddy suddenly decides its time to go, then, by some unbeknownst signal to me, the rest of the family quickly gets in line and heads for the water.

It's fascinated me for quite some time, exactly how Canadian Geese communicate with each other.

But, they must have some kind of sophisticated means of communication because when in flocks, they can suddenly bolt for the skies with just a "honk" from a lead goose. One often hears them honking signals to each other while in flight.

They fly in perfect "V" formations and always seem to know (or communicate) where they are heading to.

Canadian Geese seem to have a sharp sense of when storms are coming or any other type of danger.

When grazing on grass in flocks, there is usually one male goose keeping constant "vigilance" just as the Daddy goose does now with his family. So intent on keeping vigilance, the male (or lead) goose rarely seems to take time to nibble.

I don't understand why Canadian Geese are generally frowned upon and considered "nuisance" wildlife by parks departments, city officials and much of the public.

I think they are beautiful, intelligent, peaceful and utterly fascinating animals.

Daddy Canadian Geese would put many human Fathers to shame and they probably make better "husbands", too. In fact, a woman told me last week that male geese will even share nest-sitting duties with their female mates!

There is a reason why these birds have survived and proliferated throughout most of North America despite endless human attempts to hunt, terrorize, "control," kill and harass them.

I believe its their smarts, their devotion and loyalty and their extraordinary communication skills.

Of course my heart breaks now when thinking about how many geese, ducks and all other types of waterfowl, fish and turtles will be destroyed by the horrendous (and really, unforgivable) oil spill in the Gulf.

No matter how well equipped to deal with the stresses and natural disasters of life and nature, not even God could prepare the animals for the disasters created by man.

And how horribly ironic that such catastrophe would occur in the spring -- when so many baby animals (like the ones I so enjoy watching grow and develop now) are born. -- PCA