Sunday, November 14, 2010

Let it Be

"Adopt the pace of nature; Her secret is patience." --Ralph Waldo Emerson

Much wisdom in the above quote.

And it probably explains the success of Joey, the white duck at Harlem Meer who lost his two sisters earlier in the spring (to human cruelty) and in recent days has finally been accepted into "duck clan" at Harlem Meer.

Joey not only needed patience but a great deal of resilience as the abuse and attacks he had to sustain from the lead drake of the Meer, "Brad" were downright scary at times and hard to watch.

But, peace reigns at the Meer these days as this short (night) video shows. In it, Joey swims a couple of feet behind BradAgelina who have freely and finally accepted him.

There was a time about two months ago, I was so worried for Joey's safety, that I actually considered asking around for a sanctuary that could possibly take him. But, since he wasn't sick, injured or disabled, Joey's "rescue" was not priority.

As matters turned out, Joey didn't need rescue. He had a game plan figured out and if he was going to have to take some bruises and indignation on the path, he was willing to be patient.

And that truly is the wondrous thing about nature, as in the immortal words of Emerson, it understands "patience." If we just leave the animals and nature alone, they figure it out.

On another avian front, "Patience" is certainly not one of the things coming through on most articles about Canada geese these days of which this link leads to one:

Every park that has any geese at all is seemingly embarking on a "Goose Management Plan" that can entail anything from destruction of eggs to actual roundups and gassings of geese as occurred at Prospect Park and other locations this past summer.

But, "Why?" one asks.

A few geese around a local pond should not be cause for human panic, fear, accusation, paranoia and plans for destruction.

If people are so hysterical, intolerant and hostile about the geese however, then it seems there actually are some full proof and very common sense ways to remove the incentives for geese flocking to public parks and golf courses:

The first would be to plug up artificial and man-made ponds and lakes. Since Canada geese are waterfowl, they obviously need to be near water. Get rid of the water, no more geese. Easy. Simple.

But, then of course, many people would not like the idea of pretty ponds and lakes being plugged up.

There is, however another and even better solution:

Severely limit or entirely eliminate the hunting of Canada geese in the rural areas.

Sound crazy or preposterous to some?

Not really when one actually stops to think about it.

Canada geese are extremely smart, protective, adaptive, organized and devoted to their family birds.

Why would they choose to live and raise their young in an area where they are constantly being shot at, as opposed to one where hunting does not occur?

If having a choice, would humans choose to live and raise their children in a ghetto where guns and bullets are the rule of daily life? Or, would we rather choose a safe, gated community?

Well, geese are lot like us. They put the safety of themselves and their families above all else. Over the decades, the geese have figured out how to put up with crowds, noise, dogs and all kinds of human activities -- as long as they don't involve guns or bows and arrows.

Take away the guns and bows and arrows and the geese are more likely to choose the quiet, rural areas near water to live and raise young than busy public parks or golf courses.

But, of course, we would never take away the hunting, would we?

Well, geese, like the rest of nature, are "patient" too. And the geese learn quickly.

They learn who their human friends are. They learn their human enemies. They learn what to watch out for. They learn the difference between a fake and real alligator. They even learn which dogs represent real threat to them and which do not.

If we think we can "outsmart" the geese and the rest of nature, the only ones we are ultimately fooling are ourselves.

Shoot them in rural areas and the geese will breed more (to compensate for predation), as well as they will flock to gun-free, protected areas -- like city parks.

Oil their eggs and they will find other areas to nest.

Round up and gas them and other geese will either move into the area or breed more to make up for the predation on the species.

If I learned one thing over this past year, it is that a "dumb duck" knew far more about survival than I (a reasonably "intelligent" human) did.

And if I know one thing about nature and humans, it is that nature is a hell of a lot more patient than humans and will thus survive long after humans have vanished from the planet.

In the immortal words of other icons beside Emerson, "Let it be." -- PCA


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