Thursday, March 31, 2011

"What's Good for the Goose is Good for the Gander!" (The Romance of the Gander)






(Photos:  Papa goose: Romantic, brave, proud, chivalrous. Mama goose: demure, calm, gentle and proud of her mate.  The two lovers together.)
 
 
Have you ever wondered the origins of popular expressions?
 
Such as, "What's good for the goose is good for the gander!"
 
Well, I think I may have stumbled on how this particular adage came about:
 
Yesterday, I took my dogs to Turtle Pond around dusk to check on the current goose situation over there.
 
The last time I had been to the pond almost a week ago, there were a total of nine geese:  Mama and papa goose who recently separated themselves from their five grown goslings of last summer. And the yearling goslings who apparently settled in with another family of young geese who recently arrived at the pond.  
 
But, the situation was different yesterday.
 
At least two more gaggles of geese had apparently flown in and joined the rest. 
 
All seemed to be quite peaceful when I walked to the little pier overlooking Turtle Pond.
 
Several groups of young geese and mallards were lazily swimming on the water.
 
But, I did not immediately see the parent geese from last year.
 
Then, all of a sudden, I heard some loud honking coming from the tiny island of marsh and trees that lies between Belvedere Castle and the rest of Turtle Pond.
 
It was Papa goose!  And, right next to him, was mama!
 
The two geese appeared from within the marshes and walked to the edge of the embankment, papa with his familiar "limp" and mama tagging closely behind.
 
Then, Papa goose entered the water, still honking loudly and with a belligerent posture.
 
Upon hearing and seeing the tough gander suddenly swimming towards them, the groups of young geese on the water suddenly began to scatter.
 
"Oh, oh, here comes daddy!  We gotta move!"
 
For those juvenile geese who did not move quickly enough, daddy suddenly took off after them, flying across the water in aggressive fashion!
 
He poked a couple of the slower geese with his beak and even jumped on top of one or two, pushing them down in the water!
 
"Oh, my word!"
 
It all happened so fast, I was unable to get my camera out fast enough to shoot a video.
 
Within less than a minute, all the other geese were submissively relegated to the far end of the pond.   
 
Daddy then started to move back towards the direction of the pier, still honking and swaying his head in threatening position.  
 
And like a king laying out the red carpet for his queen, Papa proceeded to clear an open path of water for his lady love to enter the pond.
 
Mama goose then gingerly entered the water like the queen that she is and casually swam towards the pier.
 
The two lovers met on the water a few feet below from where I was standing and honked what seemed like "sweet nothings" to each other.
 
"My lady, I have cleared the way for you!   Let us enjoy our evening repast in peace!"
 
"You are so strong and brave, my love!  But, relax now, dear.  We are alone now. Everything is cool."
 
It was around that time, I shot a short video of the two lovebirds (literally.)
 
 
I don't know of course, if mama and papa actually remember me from last year.
 
Perhaps they are just used to begging treats from people coming on the pier to admire the birds of the pond.
 
But, papa's loud honking from the moment I arrived and his subsequent chasing of the other geese might indicate some memory or recognition.
 
Still, I believe its just as likely papa's salty behavior now is to be expected in the normal courtship and mating ritual of Canada geese.
 
Perhaps the reality is that it was a combination of both yesterday.
 
In any event, one of the gaggles of geese on the far side of the pond apparently decided all this drama and intimidation was too much for them.  After some honks and discussion, the five geese took off in "V" formation towards the direction of the Great Lawn.  It had not been too pleasant an evening for them.
 
Meanwhile, I tossed some seeds to the romantic couple of Turtle Pond and remarked to daddy what a prince he was!
 
"Such chivalry!  Such majesty!  Anything for your lady, yes?"
 
It seems the romance, ritual and pageantry never really ends for mated Canada geese -- even when they have been together for years.  (Ah, that only it were that way for humans!)
 
I think if there is such a thing as "reincarnation," I want to come back in the next life as a female Canada goose (provided humans are a little kinder).
 
Anything for their ladies.
 
Or,
 
"What's good for the goose is good for the gander."  -- PCA
 
                                                         ********

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

"Diehards and Honeymooners"






(Photos: "The Honeymooners" -- Ralph and Alice.  These resident geese are easily recognizable because the female, Alice is lame and the gander, Ralph is always very protective of her.  Alice has the lowered body posture.)
 
If one is lucky enough to live near a park that has mallards and geese and one is also fortunate to visit the animals on a regular basis, then, not surprisingly, the birds quickly get to know you. 
 
Geese and ducks will usually show recognition by either walking or swimming up to a recognized and valued person when that individual enters their line of vision.  Sometimes, they even swim across a wide lake.  The birds' vision is apparently quite sharp and misses little. Often the ducks and geese will issue a vocal greeting of quacks, honks or cackles when seeing a human they recognize and feel warmly towards.
 
If one is really lucky we too, learn over time, to recognize, well at least, some of the birds!
 
It is of course, not easy for us humans to distinguish among birds that look extraordinarily alike.
 
It can even be difficult to tell a male from a female goose, as the birds' markings are identical.
 
But, there are subtle differences in the body posture and language between male and female geese and usually the females are a tad smaller than the ganders.
 
If, for example observing two geese swimming together, the female usually swims with her head lower than the gander's and slightly curved.   If standing together, the gander often keeps his head in a very high, stretched out position in order to watch out for any threats to the gaggle, mate or family.
 
The male mallards (drakes) are easy to distinguish from female ducks during most of the year, except for the summer.   During the summer, the bright greens, purples, silvers and blues of the drakes fade to a drab brown and they are then difficult to tell from the females. 
 
Perhaps that is because the drakes are seemingly relegated to second place during the warm weather as some of the females raise young and quite literally, "kick the boys to the curb."  (Mallards are extremely feisty.)
 
Mallards are obviously not geese. 
 
In the duck world, the females seem to call the shots and they apparently don't want the males around, particularly when raising young.
 
Lots of "single mothers" in the duck world. 
 
Almost none in the geese world (unless some misfortune befalls the gander). 
 
Among the geese, the ganders play a crucial role in both guarding the nest and protecting mates and goslings, once the eggs are hatched. 
 
Both parent geese share in the raising of the babies and the young goslings will stay with the parents for a full year or up to the next breeding season.   At that time, the parents then begin to push the yearlings away and demand their alone time as we have recently seen with the family of geese at Turtle Pond.
 
I have been extremely fortunate over the past few years to have opportunity to get to know intimately, a number of ducks and Canada geese from Central Park.
 
Many of them I have written about throughout this journal. 
 
From the two domestic, flightless ducks, "Brad and Angelina" at Harlem Meer, to "Joey," the white, Pekin duck who had to be rescued a couple of months ago (after sustaining a dog bite) to the family of 8 geese from Turtle Pond.
 
It has been a wondrous and enlightening experience getting to know and learn so much about these extraordinary, unique and often whimsical birds.
 
But, there have been other geese and ducks I have become familiar with in recent times. And though I haven't assigned individual names to all of them yet, I have come up with a general group name for the lot:
 
"The Diehards."
 
The diehards are a small group of about 30 mallards and geese (in all) who don't migrate over the winter, but stay either in or close to Harlem Meer most of the time.
 
I wasn't always so kind to the diehard mallards over this past winter and in fact, often referred to them as the "fair feather friends" to BradJoLina (the three flightless ducks).
 
It seemed every time the weather got really vicious and stormy, the mallards took off, leaving poor Joey, Brad and Angelina utterly alone to deal with the fast icing-over lake and merciless weather.
 
Indeed, there were times when the three domestic ducks had to swim and bob up and down frantically almost 24/7 to prevent the tiny pool of open water from entirely freezing over!
 
"Where the hell are those flighty, irresponsible mallards when you need them?"  I found myself saying more than once in total frustration!
 
But, then of course, once the weather cleared a little, the mallards inevitably returned.  All ten or fifteen of them would then be starving and practically run me over when I showed up with food. 
 
In fact, on a couple of occasions, the crazy mallards even tried to follow me home!
 
Well, the diehard mallards are of course back at the Meer now all of the time.  And yes, they still recognize me and come prancing when my dogs and I show up at the lake.  But, I don't go to Harlem Meer everyday now and I don't bring a lot of seed with me when I do.   Just a few hand fulls to let the duckies know, yes, I still care about them, but they are more than capable of finding their own food now -- and should. 
 
Then there are the "diehard geese." 
 
This group consists of about 8 to 10 geese -- mostly pairs, who similarly stayed in New York City over the winter.  
 
They were in fact, the last geese to leave the night of the notorious, November "goose harassment" operation.  I guess they are somewhat used to the harassment and it doesn't necessarily spook them as much as the non-resident geese.
 
These geese, in fact, returned back to the Meer within weeks of the harassment and continued to come and go throughout the winter.
 
Two of the geese I have named because they are easily recognizable:
 
"Alice," the female goose walks with a pronounced limp and her gander, "Ralph" is extremely protective and watchful over her.  (Yes, I call them, "The Honeymooners" as a couple.)
 
I am guessing the Honeymooners (like Brad and Angelina) have been around for some years.  They know their way well around the Meer, they are somewhat independent of other geese, they know me well and they don't spook very easily.  
 
Ralph is particularly confident and gently eats seed from my hand.  His lady, Alice, however, is more shy.  Perhaps she has to be for being somewhat compromised with her bad leg.
 
I saw the Honeymooners yesterday, along with two other pairs of geese and two families that constitute what I believe are the "diehards" (or resident geese) of Harlem Meer.(They all know me.)
 
Although there were quite a few more geese a couple of weeks ago, I imagine some of them might be moving on now to birthing locations.
 
No geese have produced young at Harlem Meer over the past few years.  One guesses that whatever eggs might be laid would be oiled.   The geese must be getting the message by now that if they want to reproduce, they have to do it elsewhere. 
 
That "elsewhere" doesn't include Central Park because egg addling is regularly conducted there.
 
(The only reason goslings hatched at Turtle Pond last year was because the parent geese built their nest somewhere in the rocks near Belvedere Castle.  In previous years, their eggs had been oiled.)
 
I don't know what are the potential "breeding" possibilities of obviously mated pairs of ducks (Brad and Angelina) or mated pairs of geese (Ralph and Alice) who are otherwise, resident birds of the Meer.
 
Though always together, Brad and Angelina have not produced young since I've been observing them over the past two years, (though three other mallards did produce ducklings last year).
 
And Ralph and Alice would not be allowed to.
 
But, for the moment, it is nice seeing all the diehard mallards and geese back.
 
What the Meer will look like a few weeks down the road when harassment and oiling operations generally resume, is anyone's guess.
 
Canada geese are not usually seen at the Meer at all during the breeding and molting seasons.
 
We usually don't see the geese again until mid or late August.
 
Let's hope the Honeymooners actually have a safe place to "Honeymoon" -- and raise young if that is what they choose to do over the objections and actions of humans. -- PCA
 
 
                                                        *********

Monday, March 28, 2011

Forevermore?




To harass or not harass.  To oil or not oil.  Those are the questions.
 
One of the dilemmas that has arisen in our struggles to save the geese, is whether or not to support non-lethal means to control population.  
 
Non-lethal methods of population control involve either "harassing" the birds (i.e. chasing the geese away with specially trained Border Collies, pyrotechnics or noise makers ) or "egg addling" which involves coating goose eggs with oil to prevent hatching.
 
Of course, if the only choice is between brutally killing geese and their young goslings or chasing them away or destroying eggs, then one might be compelled to choose the latter.
 
But, is that really a choice?
 
Reality is that both "choices" would ultimately result in our city parks (and other locations) being totally emptied of their resident geese.
 
Is that what we really want?
 
Should our parks not provide some kind of safe cover for birds who otherwise were almost hunted to extinction in the last century and are still vastly hunted today?
 
Personally, I have grappled with these questions for some time.
 
At first, I supported the non-lethal means to chase geese from the parks or oil eggs if it meant that any geese remaining in the summer would not be rounded up and gassed.
 
But, since then different experiences and new information have changed my mind.
 
The first of these experiences occurred last November, when personally observing a goose "harassment" operation at Harlem Meer in Central Park. 
 
 It was after 6 PM in the evening and the park was mostly empty of human traffic.
 
At the time the lake was in the process of freezing over. Almost half of it had turned to ice.
 
Nevertheless, there were still a number of different bird species residing on the ice or in the water.  These included Northern Shovelers who swam in constant circles helping to keep the water from entirely freezing over, as well as a healthy group of mallards, one swan and about 30 or so, Canada geese.
 
A woman showed up in a white van with "Geese Relief" painted on the sides.
 
I was positioned on the other side of the lake when noticing the woman suddenly hurling a large, metal type canister onto the frozen ice.   It made a very loud, crashing sound.
 
At first, I thought in my naivety, that the woman was there to help the birds by breaking up some of the newly formed ice!
 
But, then an obvious panic flared through all the birds either in the water or on the ice.
 
The Canada geese were the first to send out a chorus of loud "alarm honks." 
 
Almost instantaneously,  Joey, Brad and Angelina (the three flightless ducks) whom I was feeding at the time, suddenly bolted from their position on the embankment and dove into the water, swimming frantically to the middle of the lake.
 
And, in less than a minute's time, ALL the birds (with the exception of the three flightless ducks) suddenly took off for the skies.
 
First, the geese, then the mallards and finally, the shovelers following closely behind.
 
Unlike the highly organized and orderly way geese normally fly when taking off in their familiar "V" formation, these birds rather bolted up almost in a straight vertical line from the water. They flew higher than normal and in frazzled, disorganized fashion -- almost like smoke spewing up from an exploded bomb.
 
Within a few short moments, the lake was almost entirely devoid of birds, except for the panicked Joey and BrAdgenlina, huddled in the middle of the lake, along with a few stubborn geese and the one swan, "Hector."
 
I walked over and confronted the woman from "Geese Relief."
 
"What the HELL are you doing?" I demanded.  "Don't you realize we need the geese here to try and maintain some open water?  How can you send birds up to the skies in a panic when we have low flying planes over the park?  Isn't that inviting a potential airline disaster?"
 
The woman did not answer me, but rather got back in the van and drove a short distance away.
 
I remained in the park for some time, but it became apparent that the Geese Relief woman would not go away until every last goose was banished from the Meer.
 
When I returned to the Meer the next day, there were no geese at all and even Hector the swan had apparently been harassed away with all the other birds.
 
Hector never returned and to this day, I don't know what happened to the large and very social, beloved swan.
 
The following day, I complained to Central Park Conservancy about the goose harassment  and was assured that the program would be suspended for the rest of the winter and they would hire a new agency come the spring.
 
In essence, "goose harassment" is not just about "chasing away geese."  Its about chasing off every other waterfowl that happens to be hanging with the geese. 
 
Other birds apparently depend on Canada geese for security and early warning systems of danger. 
 
Harassment is also about putting birds in the air, flying in disorganized panic.  Something that should be seriously questioned in areas close to airports. 
 
I can't prove anything of course, but have long suspected that the two geese that flight 1549 collided with in January of 2009 might have been "harassed" from one of the nearby airports.  
 
After all, geese don't normally fly into planes.
 
But, birds flying in panic?
 
That could well be another picture entirely. 
 
The egg addling is another matter I have changed my mind on -- particularly as it pertains to the geese in our public parks.
 
The most basic explanation for this change in position is that I fail to see any "overpopulation" of geese and therefore see no reason for "population control."
 
Birds are pretty good at controlling their own populations to suit the environment they live in, as well as the amount of "predation" that might be stressing the species.
 
Destroying eggs abilities to hatch is tantamount to "predation" on a species and most likely will result in the geese adapting to the predation by either seeking to breed more or building nests in places not easily accessible to humans (such as building terraces or high rock formations).
 
Moreover, human interference into normal bird behavior and instinct, can over time, alter normal avian mating patterns. 
 
Some scientists maintain that when "divorce" occurs in birds who normally mate for life (such as Canada geese or swans) it is more often due to the mated pair being unable to produce young (something that occurs in some human couples as well when encountering issues of infertility).
 
Do we really want to severely stress and screw up normal bird behavior and mating patterns?
 
Finally, in addition to all these considerations, there is also the element (and stress) of the actual egg oiling itself.
 
Canada geese are extremely protective of both, their mates and their young.
 
According to an egg addling video put out by the USDA, it is recommended that two people work together to oil eggs.   One person to actually oil the eggs and another individual with an umbrella. 
 
The job of the person with the umbrella is to stave off attempts by the parent geese, (especially the gander) to defend their nest.
 
It is in fact, sad to see the parent geese in the video trying to fend off attack of their nest.  How would a human mother or father react if someone was trying to kidnap their child?  Well, the geese are the same.
 
Talk about "interfering" with normal bird instinct -- including the instinct to protect young.
 
Still, the bottom line to all these questions is the current population of Canada geese in this country.
 
According to government figures, there are an estimated 3.8 million Canada geese throughout the entire United States.  (We have a hundred times more humans.)
 
By contrast, we have 7 million wild turkeys.
 
But, when one considers the nationwide actions and attempts to hunt geese, harass them, destroy their eggs and "cull" them, what does that mean for the future of this majestic and adaptable species?
 
There were, after all, once tens of millions of passenger pigeons who now only exist in museums and history books.
 
We don't want to see Canada geese go the way of eventual extinction.
 
There is only so much stress and depravation a species can successfully "adapt" to before destruction takes its final toll. 
 
Forevermore.    -- PCA
 
                                                         **********
 

Sunday, March 27, 2011

One Step in a Journey of a Thousand Miles






Photos:  Banded geese at Prospect Park, Senator Eric Adams imploring justice for Canada geese to crowd at Hands Around Lake event Saturday.)
 
 
Yesterday (Saturday) was both, exhilarating and dispiriting.  
 
It was encouraging from the standpoint of the more than 130 people and children who attended yesterday's "Hands Around the Lake" event at Prospect Park to support and protect New York City's Canada geese.  (This, on a chilly day when the temperatures remained in the high 30's.) 
 
There were in fact, far more humans in Prospect Park to support the geese than actual Canada geese to be seen and supported. 
 
(Personally, I saw only about 20 geese swimming around the Prospect Park lake, though the claim is that there are approximately, 180. -- A claim that becomes more dubious with what other goose observers have regularly reported since the July 8th  goose gassings of last summer.) 
 
Speeches from Senator Eric Adams, Edita Birnkrant of Friends of Animals, Mary-Beth Purdy, event organizer, a young child and others were short, passionate and inspiring.
 
And even the two banded Canada geese at Prospect Park came out to lend their presence and ask for protection. 
 
(In fact, one of the geese might actually have been begging for the tight yellow ID band around her neck to be removed.  The constricting band surely cannot be comfortable for an animal that normally curves, turns and bends the neck -- especially to eat and watch for predators.)
 
Nevertheless, despite the encouraging crowd and actual positive event,  the day is once again shrouded in both, shallow major media coverage as well as the way some of our city leaders continue to deny and treat this issue with euphemisms.
 
Although some members of the press attended and reported on the event, most coverage ends up getting negated with crass comments at the end, either about "goose poop" or "flight 1549 that landed in the Hudson" a couple of years ago after colliding with two Canada geese. 
 
It is difficult to get media to question or focus on WHY that particular airliner landed in trouble when many millions of airliners safely take off and land every year.
 
Very rarely is it reported that the US Airways aircraft had engine problems on a previous flight and had to emergency land.  
 
 It appears to be so much easier to blame the geese and put out the argument that all the geese should be destroyed for so-called, "airline safety."
 
Of course one wonders how killing thousands of Canada geese in NYC "protects" airline passengers from things like mechanical deficiencies, human error, terror attacks,  pilot fatigue, traffic controllers falling asleep on the job or bad weather.
 
But, supposedly, killing geese makes people feel good that "something is being done" to address airline safety issues, when the reality is far different.
 
We are simply killing a lot of geese.
 
Still, for whatever reason, any positive support for Canada geese seems to get either very short and shallow shrift from major press or in most cases, none at all.
 
But, if media is generally dismissive of pleas to save the geese, (with the notable exceptions of The Brooklyn Paper and Prospect Park Patch it is nothing compared to some of our politicians.  (Read actual articles here: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Call-of-the-Canada-Geese/114425621968855?sk=wall).
 
Last night, when coming online, I received a condescening form email response from Christine Quinn,  Speaker of the City Council (Emphasis supplied):
 

Dear Ms. Adjamine

 

Thank you for sharing your concerns about the removal of Canada Geese from Prospect Park this past summer.

 

As the owner of two rescued dogs whom I love very dearly, I can certainly understand why this situation has upset many people, and I appreciate you calling for more humane solutions to this matter.

 

As you may know, the removal of these geese involved all levels of government, including federal, state and multiple local agencies, and I believe it's important that we strike the proper balance between human air passenger safety and animal rights.  

 

I have taken the liberty of forwarding a copy of your letter to the staff of the Council's Health and Transportation Committees so that they are fully aware of the concerns you have raised about the removal of these geese.  Please be assured that we will continue to keep a close eye on this situation. 

 

Thanks again for sharing your concerns with me.  Your advocacy on behalf of these and other animals is greatly appreciated.

 

Sincerely,

Christine C. Quinn

Speaker


Not only does Ms. Quinn fail to address the questions raised in my response to her, but she sends out the very same dismissive letter sent several months ago. -- the one that repeatedly and euphemistically refers to the goose gassings as "removals."  (Removals to where, I ask.  "Disneyworld?")
 
Meanwhile, google Canada geese "news" and there is not a day that goes by when one does not find numerous national  articles decrying the geese as "flying pests" that need to be "gotten rid of."
 
For example, this gem yesterday from the Ohio Dispatch.  It is hard to know which is worse.  The article itself or the comments that follow it: http://www.dispatch.com/live/content/life/stories/2011/03/26/geese-be-gone.html?sid=101
 
As Edita Birnkrant of Friends of Animals says, between the harassment, egg destruction and actual cullings, it seems we are looking to "empty" our parks, cities and perhaps entire country of all Canada geese.  (Well, except for those who can serve as hunting "targets.")
 
These animals quite literally have no place to go where they can live in any kind of peace, harmony or acceptance.
 
All the more reason to fight for justice for them. 
 
Yesterday was simply a small step on a journey of a thousands miles. -- PCA
 
                                                         *******
 
 
 
 
 

Friday, March 25, 2011

"Hands Around the Lake" -- Becoming a Voice for Those Without Defense




 Tomorrow could well mean the difference between life and death for the geese in New York City parks.
 
"Hands Around the Lake" is to occur tomorrow (Saturday) at Prospect Park.  It starts at 12: 30 PM and will run to about 2:30.
 
 
 
Prospect Park is the epicenter of the horrific round-ups and gassings of Canada geese that have been occurring in NYC for some years now, but came to public light last summer with the killing of Prospect Park's entire goose population in the wee hours of a July morning.
 
Other geese have of course flown into Prospect Park since the massacre to fill some of the void of those gassed. 
 
The savage roundups and goose gassings were thus both, an exercise in barbarity and futility, as well as a colossal waste of taxpayer money to the tune of over $100,000.
 
This, at a time our city is closing hospitals and firing thousands of teachers for "lack of money."
 
The goose gassing contract between the city of New York and the USDA is still in place through this summer.   The contract then comes up for renewal. 
 
Unless there is excellent turnout tomorrow for the Prospect Park peaceful and positive event, as well as continuing, intense pressure on the mayor and other city officials to halt the goose gassing contract, then New York City's Canada geese are doomed to slow, painful and unjustified death.
 
These things are not said to sound alarmist, dramatic or to exaggerate.  They are cold,  matters of fact.
 
Canada geese have become the "scapegeese" of both NYC and much of the world for things that the geese actually have little connection with such as airline safety issues and environmental destruction.
 
Some might wonder why, in a world filled with recent ecological disasters, war and tyranny, some try to gain justice and respect for the few hundred geese of our city parks?
 
To quote the basis for the environmental movement:  "Think globally, but act locally."
 
If we are unable to successfully confront the false allegations about geese and to stop the needless and unjustifiable slaughter of them in our local city parks, then it is unlikely that we can have serious impact on the larger issues facing the planet.
 
To quote Margaret Meade:  "Never underestimate that a small group of people cannot change the world.  Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."
 
But, let us keep in mind that complainers usually get more attention (or "oil") than those who are content with the status quo. 
 
Silence equals complicity to the minds of politicians.
 
Those who cherish the wildlife in our parks are generally the quiet people who assume the geese and other animals will always be there.
 
But, we have learned in recent years, that is not the case.
 
If we want to continue to enjoy nature in our local parks, then we need to become vocal and visable advocates for geese and other animals.
 
Please get the word out about this important event tomorrow.  Please attend and bring your friends.
 
Become a voice for those who have no human words to defend themselves.  -- PCA
 
                                                            *******
 
 

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Avian (and Human) Paradise






The March temperatures may still be nippy in New York City, but yesterday, the sun was brightly bathing everything in gorgeous splendor.
 
Particularly beautiful were the geese and mallards scattered peacefully around Harlem Meer -- and the people who so adore them.
 
Normally, the routine when going to the Meer is to walk around with my dogs, check on Brad and Angelina (the two domestic, flightless ducks who basically "rule" the Meer) and of course, monitor and take photos of my beloved geese. 
 
But, yesterday, the glowing warmth of the sun made the prospect of sitting around on one of the lake embankments particularly inviting.  It was nice to just watch the world and the geese go by.
 
There is an especially nice spot near the Dana Center with gravel stones and steps and brushes that seems to be a favorite, quiet place for nature lovers.
 
After a few moments, a smallish,  Hispanic man in his mid 40's came and sat on the steps looking out over the lake.   After looking around, he slowly took a bag from his pocket from which he removed a couple of slices of whole wheat bread and began to break up the bread in small pieces to toss to the few geese and mallards swimming in the water.
 
"Do you mind?" he asked me a little sheepishly in a heavy Spanish accent.
 
"No, no, of course not!" I smiled.
 
A couple of the geese hopped on the embankment and approached the man. One of them took the bread from the man's hand.
 
"These two know me," the man said with pride.
 
"Oh Yes, well, the geese quickly learn who their friends are!" I laughed.
 
Then, looking at my dogs, one of the geese began to hiss.
 
"Oh, why you hiss?" the man asked the goose. "What bothering you?"
 
"Oh, he's hissing at my dogs." I replied.  "Dogs can be predators of geese, so naturally the goose is afraid. Its only natural that he would do that."
 
"Oh, that make sense.  I deen't know." the man said relieved.
 
The two of us began to chat about the birds of Harlem Meer, as a couple of mallards joined the geese in grabbing at treats -- along with a slew of sparrows and a few grapples.
 
"I been comin' here for years," the man said. "I use to love the two swans, but sometheeg happen.....poison, I theenk." his voice trailed off.
 
"Yes," I said.  "One of the swans died from Botulism last spring and her mate disappeared a few weeks later.  Very sad.  Then, there was another swan here last fall. But, he got chased away by the goose harassment program."
 
"They chase the geese and swan away?" the man asked incredulously. "That no good!  Very cruel!"
 
"Well, yes," I replied. "Very cruel. But, it seems some people and the parks consider the geese 'pests.'  They have a regular program to harass them." 
 
"That very sad.  I don't understan'!" the man said obviously disappointed. "The birds are peaceful. They don't hurt nobody."
 
The man then told me how upset he was with some of the fishers in the park.
 
"Last yeer, I have to grab goose with fishing wire around hees leg.  Poor goose could hardly walk!  I use piece of broken glass to try and cut wire, but deen't get all of it.  Some of it imbed in leg."
 
"I think I know the goose you are talking about. The Park Ranger tried to get him, but he flew away.  I think its wonderful you tried to help the goose.  But, its not easy."
 
Around that time, a young Asian woman came by and slowly joined in the conversation.
 
"So pretty and so friendly." she said, looking at the geese and ducks walking up to the man.
 
The man offered her a slice of whole wheat bread to toss to the birds.  "But, you have to break up into very leetle pieces," he warned her. 
 
The girl gratefully accepted the bread and heeded the instructions.  She then asked many questions about the birds.
 
"Are they all ducks?"
 
I explained to the young woman that the larger birds were Canada geese and the smaller ones were mallards.   I also told her how the geese mate for life and raise young together and how, among the mallards, the male ducks (drakes) change color to a drab brown over the summer.
 
"They are the bright colors now in order to attract females.  But, come the summer, the female ducks raise babies alone and seem to banish the males," I laughed.
 
"That is so fascinating!" the young woman replied.
 
The Hispanic man then asked if I knew what happened to the white duck (Joey)?
 
"There used to be beautiful white duck here.  But, I not see him since the winter."
 
It was uplifting to be able to tell the man that Joey had been rescued after sustaining a dog bite and has since been adopted to a loving home.
 
"Oh, that ees good!" the man said. "I so worried over him."
 
At that moment, one of the police patrol cars started surveying around the lake.
 
"Oh, you'd better hide the bread away!" I warned to the man and young woman.
 
But, I didn't need to say anything to the man. The remaining slice of bread was already tucked away, out of sight.  This was, after all, a man very familiar with park policies.
 
"Why do we have to hide?" the girl asked.
 
"Because they have signs up not to feed the birds," I answered. "It's kind of sad that in doing a kind thing, one has to feel like a criminal, but that's the way it is."
 
The patrol car passed by without stopping.
 
Some minutes later, an African American woman and small child stopped by, the child fascinated by the mallards and geese.
 
"Mommy, can I feed the duckies?"
 
The mother gave the child some popcorn and the man showed the little boy how to gently feed the birds without scaring them away. Both, mother and child were happy with the moral support and stayed for a good 15 minutes or so.
 
The sun began to slowly descend and the wind picked up. 
 
I was in the process of pointing out and talking about Brad and Angelina to the people around me when realizing I'd been at the Meer for almost two hours! 
 
Time flies when you're having fun.
 
As our little party began to break up and the birds returned peacefully to the water, I realized it was time to leave this avian and human paradise of harmony and peace.  -- In many ways, a sharp contrast to the world around us.
 
Its perfectly understandable what draws so many people, including myself to the park on an early spring day.
 
Its one of the few places where, for a few minutes, both animals and humans can meet each other on totally equal footing without pretenses, divisions, expectations or judgment.
 
As I walked around the lake and began to exit Harlem Meer, I looked back over the water and to the cobble steps where a few minutes before, I had been enjoying the company of good people and beautiful geese and ducks.
 
There was someone else sitting on the steps and tossing out tidbits to the birds.
 
And I thought to myself that it was no surprise that so many birds flocked to and stayed around Harlem Meer.
 
Its because there are so many people who love them.  -- PCA
 
 
                                                             **********
 

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

"Delta Dawn"





(Photo -- Just a goose)
 
 
"Odyssey Dawn."
 
The name of a Kentucky Derby winner?
 
A new Disneyworld theme park?
 
Or, a Barry Manilow song?
 
Apparently, it's the name of our latest war.
 
I must have been in a coma last week.  I obviously missed something.
 
I recall going to sleep one night worried over disasters in Japan and woke up the next day to discover we were dropping bombs in Libya.
 
Am not sure what happened in between.
 
I was under the impression that there were certain protocols before our country embarked on wars and use of military force.
 
You know, little constitutional things like debate, the public and Congress being informed or Congressional declaration?
 
I was apparently wrong on that.
 
I am learning now that there was some kind of uprising occurring in Libya and that a group of "rebels" were trying to overthrow the country's infamous dictator, Monomer Khaddafy. 
 
But, the revolution suddenly wasn't going too well and the angry despot was threatening a bloodbath with "no mercy."
 
Revolutions and civil wars can get messy.
 
But, for some reason, (unlike other countries' civil wars and revolutions) the United States has chosen to inject itself in the middle of the Libyan uprising and we have chosen a side. -- That of the rebels.
 
(Good thing other nations didn't take up the cause of "rebels" in this country 150 years ago or we might still have slavery.)
 
Anyway, I have been trying over the past few days to catch up to what I obviously missed when in the coma.
 
Things like when did the revolution in Libya occur?   Where were the hundreds of thousands of people marching and protesting in the streets?  Who exactly are the rebels?  Precisely what cause and what armies are we supporting?  And, what is the goal of this latest military adventure?
 
But, for some reason, the video of millions or even thousands of Libyans protesting in the streets seems to be missing. 
 
I have however, seen numerous video clips of what seems like a rag tag little "army" of maybe 30 or 40 Libyan young men waving fists in the air, jumping up and down and holding what appear toy guns.
 
Not so sure however, these guys look like they are ready to lead a country as much as they might be seeking the nearest bar fight.
 
They don't even look like they are ready to engage in a war.
 
But, no need to worry.
 
They have the U.S. and our "coalition of the willing" (at least up to a short point) to do it for them.
 
Oh, bombs can you see the way to Tripoli?
 
Among our "unique capabilities for humanitarian missions" is a huge array of seemingly endless bombs, missiles, war planes and tankers that other countries don't have.   Other "coalition members" might, however, throw in a grenade or two?
 
Perhaps one or two Arab countries might show up for a photo op?
 
Our President announced yesterday that the humanitarian mission should be "completed" in a few days. 
 
Is that like "mission accomplished" in Iraq after only a few weeks?
 
One is encouraged with such assurances.
 
Still, I don't understand who the rebels are or exactly what the goal of the mission is?
 
Does Khaddafy stay in power?   Or, do we find some subtle way to retire him to the Bahamas and put the rebels in charge of Libya?
 
I still think the rebels look more prepared for a bar fight or a rave party than to lead a country.
 
But, then again, who knows?
 
Libya tend to be melting pot for all kinds of off-beat tribes, including friends of Bin Laden.  I could be wrong, but seem to remember one or two of the hijackers on the 9-11 planes to be either born or trained in Libya.
 
But, perhaps its best not to look too closely at who we are calling "friends" or allies -- at least for the moment.  ("The enemy of our enemies is apparently our automatic friend.")
 
After all, we one time sold chemical weapons to Sadam Hussein for his war against Iran.
 
But at a previous time, the Shah of Iran was considered our friend -- at least until that country had a revolution.
 
Friends have a way of changing.
 
Perhaps that is why I personally like geese so much.
 
They tend to be more consistent than humans.
 
As for the name of our latest war or "humanitarian mission."
 
I think it should be "Delta Dawn" -- after the old, Helen Redy song.
 
"Delta Dawn, what's that flower you got on?........"   -- PCA
 
 
                                                               *********
 
 

Monday, March 21, 2011

Rites of Spring







(Photos: New family of geese at Turtle Pond, people snapping photos in background.   Papa goose, "shooing" new family and goslings away.  Papa and Mama.)
 
Those warm, spring-like temperatures of Friday did not hold up through the weekend.
 
It was so chilly yesterday, I regretted not wearing gloves.
 
But, though temperatures have dipped down to 30's and 40's over the past couple of days, the early signs of spring are all over Central Park!
 
Green sprouts are bursting through piled up brown leaves on the ground. In a few short weeks, these will transform into masses of brightly colored flowers.   In fact, there are already small bunches of flowers that have "early bloomed" in a few areas of the park.
 
Though the trees are still mostly bare, they are replete with the buds that will soon turn the park into a royal majesty of bursting pinks, whites, yellows and greens.  Already some cherry blossoms are starting to show their early buds.
 
It is all part of the wondrous rites of spring. 
 
A rite that includes a new family of five geese who recently showed up at Turtle Pond!
 
This new "family" was not initially welcomed by the established, "Papa, Mama and their four grown goslings" returned to Turtle Pond a few weeks ago.  
 
 In fact, Papa goose aggressively went after and attacked the new geese upon their first few days at the pond.
 
But, the territorial and "status" squabbles that occur among geese and mallards, though they can sometimes appear quite violent, in fact are more honk than hurt. 
 
Its more about establishing order than anything else.
 
The new geese seemed to have quickly gotten the message, that while they are allowed to hang out at Turtle Pond, they are not to approach anywhere near either Papa or Mama goose.
 
But, they can safely mingle and swim with the four grown goslings who were recently "tossed from the nest" by the parents who once again require their alone time.
 
It was fascinating yesterday watching the four goslings and new family of five geese, sunning themselves peacefully on the same rocks and later swimming in the water together.
 
However, when they got too close to Papa goose and his lady near the small pier, Papa simply made a motion towards them and all nine geese rapidly scooted away!
 
Papa merely has to look at them now for the youthful geese to quickly paddle those powerful feet and move. 
 
I am guessing that the new gaggle of geese might similarly be juveniles like the other four and are not likely to breed.
 
It is hard to imagine Papa goose tolerating another goose pair attempting to breed and challenging him and Mama for top position at Turtle Pond.
 
But, if young like the grown goslings from last year, the new family poses no real "threat" to the established parents and in fact, provide some extra company for the goslings.
 
I am of course, "speculating" on all this stuff, but so far haven't been wrong.
 
Much was learned over this past year, both from observing the "family" at Turtle Pond, as well as the brutal initiation and "hazing" that Joey, the white Pekin duck had to suffer this past fall when trying to be accepted by Brad and Angelina, the top "status" ducks at Harlem Meer.
 
For those birds that make it through initial status and territorial initiations and are finally accepted, the going is usually smooth and loyal.  (Once again, the geese and mallards seem to be a little like humans in that regard.)  
 
In essence, the scene was peaceful and quiet yesterday at Turtle Pond which each goose appearing to know his or her place and happily accept it.
 
One can't, however, say the same for the mallards.
 
There was, in fact, quite a bit of squawking and feather-rustling occurring with the mallards. 
 
I attribute this simply to the "rites of spring," but was informed by another park goer and careful observer of the ducks at Turtle Pond that there is a "bully" drake there who is particularly mean to all the other ducks. 
 
The gentleman even pointed out the "bully duck" to me who was giving the others a rough time.
 
Oh well, there always appears to be at least one "bully" among the ducks and sometimes, the geese too.  
 
Then again, If one didn't understand his motivations, one might think "Papa goose" is a bully, too.  
 
But, Papa is merely very protective of his lady and the couple's breeding place.
 
Perhaps the same is true of the "bully duck?"
 
 I can't say, as I don't know the Turtle Pond mallards well enough to guess.
 
As is common at Harlem Meer, groups of people and children ventured on the areas surrounding Turtle Pond to get photos of or just admire the geese, ducks and healthy array of other birds swimming or flying around.   Some park goers came onto the pier and others sat along the rocks snapping photos.
 
There are in fact, thousands of birds returned to Central Park now.  The sparrows and robins are back, along with grapples, and the occasional, beautiful cardinal.  The other day at Harlem Meer, I saw a gorgeous, dark, sapphire-blue colored bird, but had no idea what it was.
 
The park may still largely have the "look" of winter, but the rites of spring are all around.
 
Returning home from Central Park yesterday with my dogs, my spirits felt full and vitalized.
 
But then,  I noticed a flattened out pigeon dead in the streets from having been run over by a car.
 
"Dear God, please take that little one's spirit to heaven."
 
I was then reminded of all the death and sorrows in the world of the past week.
 
"Please, God, bring to heaven the souls of all who have perished so tragically in the terrible storms of these  times. 
 
And, please grant to us, the living, the peace and forever beautiful rites of spring for which I am eternally grateful."   -- PCA
 
 
                                                           ***********
 
 
 
 
 
 

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Nourishment to the Heart








With all the horrors occurring in the world right now, it was vitalizing to the soul yesterday to take my dogs to see the geese and mallards in Central Park.
 
But, along with reassurances of normalcy and peace from the wildlife itself, there was also the delight of witnessing  scores of joyful people and children so dearly cherishing and valuing the waterfowl in their park.
 
Photos posted here represent merely a tiny portion of what could actually have been taken yesterday at Harlem Meer.
 
The day itself was beautiful.  Temperature in the 70's, millions of tiny buds on the trees and the sun shining brightly through bright blue, spring skies.
 
Indeed, the first flowers of spring are already in full bloom.
 
When first arriving at Harlem Meer, I did not initially see many geese.
 
But, it was soon apparent that the geese were simply spread out in different small groups or pairs around the lake.
 
Unlike the winter, when geese typically huddle down closely in large groups (presumably for warmth and survival) around small pools of open water, spring brings with it, the freedom of pairing off in large open water and savoring bountiful food supply.
 
Mallards too, are mostly in pairs this time of year --  though the new freedoms and adventurous opportunities can occasionally cause some to accidentally stray.
 
One of those "stray" ducks yesterday was Angelina!
 
Imagine my alarm yesterday, when seeing for the first time, Brad swimming on the water all alone!
 
Oh my God, where's Angelina?
 
Brad, indeed seemed frantic in search of his lost mate.  Not at all interested in any treats, Brad simply sped throughout the water endlessly quacking.
 
"Angelina, where the hell are you??!!"  one could imagine the distraught drake anxiously  calling.
 
I looked for Angelina all around the marshes and grass, as well as near the Dana Discovery Center.   No trace of her!
 
I then tried to follow Brad as he barreled towards the east side of the lake where, both many people and geese were gathered.  Brad continued to desperately call out.
 
But, sure enough, moments later, there was Brad peacefully swimming with his lost lady love, Angelina right beside him!
 
I breathed a sigh of relief.
 
Both ducks recognized and swam towards me.  They came up on a small embankment.
 
But, while Angelina casually nibbled at seed, completely unfazed by what had just occurred, Brad continued to "talk" incessantly as if giving his wandering mate some kind of lecture!
 
"Geeze, I turn my back for a second and you go and run off with the geese!  What the hell was that all about?  I've spent the last hour looking for you!"
 
For her part, Angelina continued to snack as if to completely dismiss Brad's worries and complaints with a casual, "Whatever."
 
It has always been more than apparent that while Brad may be the "worker" of the two ducks (especially when the lake was frozen over and Brad fought endlessly to keep the small pool of water open), it is Angelina who is the real leader and ruler of the two ducks.  
 
Brad almost always has to follow Angelina, rather than the other way around.
 
If some gander momentarily caught Angelina's eye, then so be it.  It was up to Brad to keep sight on and not lose his curious and adventurous lady love.
 
After a few minutes, both ducks returned to the water and continued to swim together.
 
Presumably, BrAdgelina stay that way -- or at least until another cute gander passes by and Brad is foolish enough to turn his head.  -- It seems Ms. Angelina has a bit of a roving eye in the spring.
 
Continuing around the lake, I watched and snapped some photos of families and children enjoying the geese or mallards and in most cases, offering treats.  Other birds flocked around the seemingly gregarious banquet, including a few pigeons, sparrows and some exotic species that I did not recognize. All seemed to quickly scoop up those little leftover treats from the geese and mallards.
 
A number of young couples snapped photos of each other either posing in front of geese or attempting to feed.
 
It was all enchanting and nourishing to the heart. 
 
Finally, when leaving the very bird enriched Harlem Meer, I could not help but wonder if our Mayor and other city and government officials have any idea just how treasured and celebrated the birds of our parks really are -- especially, it seems, Canada geese?
 
For if they did, they could surely never sanction or endorse, harassment and killing of the glorious geese so many New Yorkers have so come to cherish and adore. 
 
Especially in these very uncertain and otherwise, bereft times. -- PCA
 
                                                           *******
 
 
 
 
 
 
                                                              ********   
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

"De-Ja Vu?"

The first personal reaction yesterday to the news that the US, along with an "international coalition" was about to intervene in a civil war in Libya was, "What better way to take focus away from nuclear questions and crisis than to embark on a new Middle East war?"
 
Okay. Maybe, that is not fair.  Maybe, it is really cynical.  But the timing of this new military adventure in Libya (another oil-rich, Arab country, coincidently) seems just a bit suspect.
 
Khaddafy, after all, has been a nut job and brutal dictator for decades.
 
In many ways, the events of yesterday and today seem very "de-ja vu."  (Sans, of course the aspects of earthquakes, tsunamis and nuclear disasters.)
 
One seems to recall the media and most of the Congress jumping on the bandwagon for wars in Afghanistan and Iraq ten years ago.
 
One seems to remember "Coalitions of the Willing" sending troops and other support  during these invasions -- or at least in the beginnings, they did. 
 
These were NOT, after all,  "unilateral" ventures!  (Exactly what is being said now.)
 
And one recalls very compelling reasons for these military actions.
 
It was extremely critical to track down and get Osama Bin Laden who had orchestrated and carried out the 9-11 attacks against the US from his home base in Afghanistan.
 
And of course, it was vital to disarm and crush Sadam Hussein and his "weapons of mass destruction" in Iraq.
 
Unfortunately, ten years later, we never did get Bin Laden and those "WMD's" in Iraq turned out to be paper tigers.
 
Meanwhile, those "Coalitions of the Willing" turned out to be not so "willing" after all.
 
After the initial invasions, most "coalition members" slowly dropped out of the ventures and it was America stuck holding the bags for both, fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan, "resurgents" in Iraq and nation-building in both countries.
 
And though it was very easy and quick to jump into these wars, (like quicksand), it was not so easy and "quick" to get out of them.
 
In fact, almost ten years later, we are still in both countries.
 
It is hard to calculate the actual costs of these wars, both in human lives and money.
 
If one calculates both, civilian lives lost in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as "coalition" and American military lives lost, the numbers go well into the hundreds of thousands.  
 
That does not take into account, those losing limbs, committing suicide or suffering from PTSDs.
 
The financial price tags for these costly wars run into hundreds of billions of dollars to American taxpayers. 
 
 Indeed, a very odd thing considering we are otherwise in "economic crisis" and in recent days have almost shut down Congress for budget woes and disagreements and are even debating now, possible cuts to Social Security and other vital services.
 
None of this takes into account, questions that have arisen over the past week regarding United States "readiness" for powerful 9.0 earthquakes and Tsunamis similar to what just occurred in Japan.  
 
If our responses to Hurricane Katrina and the Gulf oil spill last year were any indications, then it is hard to imagine that we are "ready" for catastrophes of potentially far greater impact and deadlier consequences.
 
As for the state of our 102 nuclear reactors, most of which have been built decades ago and some of which lie along fault lines or near major cities, well, lets not even go there.
 
"Not going there" is exactly what we are doing today. 
 
Instead, we are going into Libya. -- PCA
 
 
                                                                    ***********

"NYC Geese in Peril --Two Ways You Can Help" Message from In Defense of Animals




The below is a message from In Defense of Animals.  Please read carefully and take suggested actions.  This is critical to saving the geese:
 
 
NYC Geese In Peril - Two Ways You Can Help

1) Contact NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg to cancel the contract with USDA

2) Attend "Hands Around the Lake" event in Prospect Park, Brooklyn,
Saturday, March 26, 12:30 p.m., Prospect Park Lake, Enter at Vanderbilt
Street & Prospect Park SW

Join with members of "For the Love of Prospect Park Geese" as they demand
the city end its contract to slaughter hundreds more of our beloved NYC
geese and their goslings. Special guest speakers include State Senator Eric
Adams and NYC Councilmember Letitia James.
For more information contact Mary Beth: frannykit@yahoo.com.

Tell Mayor Bloomberg To Cancel City's Contract With USDA To Kill Geese

Many New Yorkers are aware of the infamous killing of 368 Canada geese and
their goslings at Prospect Park last summer, but what they don't know is
that hundreds of New York City geese remain imperiled and are likely to be
killed this summer, unless the city cancels its contract with the U.S.
Department of Agriculture (USDA).

The Prospect Park killings last summer were merely the tip of the iceberg.
Under its contract with the Wildlife Services Division of the USDA, more
than 1,600 Canada geese were rounded up and gassed throughout NYC in the
summer of 2010, in addition to 1,200 geese who were killed in the same
manner in 2009. Over 2,800 Canada geese have been cruelly exterminated at
dozens of parks and grassy spaces throughout NYC in just the past two years.

The city claims the geese are killed to make air travel safer, but killing
geese is not the answer. Geese repopulate the areas where they've been
removed, proving the futility of this method.

DNA analysis of the feathers found in the engine of the US Airways flight
that collided with a flock of geese in 2009 showed that these Canada geese
were migratory and not residential. Canada geese inhabiting the city's parks
and grassy areas are typically non-migratory, making any plan to kill geese
throughout the city even more absurd and fruitless. The mass killing must
stop!


Use the form at this link to send a fax to NYC Mayor Bloomberg right now.
https://secure2.convio.net/ida/site/Advocacy?pagename=homepage&page=UserAction&id=1807&autologin=true&JServSessionIdr004=m88zzovpe2.app244b
Ask that he cancel the city's contract with USDA to kill Canada geese this
spring. Ask that the city use proven and effective non-lethal methods for
dealing with geese and other birds.

To double the effectiveness of your message, cut-and-paste it into the
mayor's comment form at his web site. We have printed a sample letter below,
which you can cut-and-paste into the mayor's web form, then personalize.
http://www.nyc.gov/html/mail/html/mayor.html

Triple the impact of your message by calling the mayor: 212-788-3000 or 311.

Sample letter (for maximum effectiveness, please personalize! Please mention
if you live, work, or vacation in New York City.)

Dear Mayor Bloomberg:
I join the thousands of New Yorkers who request that New York City
immediately cancel any current or future plans to kill Canada geese. Only
humane methods should be used to control Canada geese.

Killing Canada geese in the name of air safety is inherently nonsensical.
The city's current geese annihilation plan has not been effective; new geese
have quickly moved in each year to replace those killed. Repopulation with
new flocks of Canada geese is inevitable, totally undermining the
effectiveness at reducing their numbers. More important, it is clear that
these repeated killings do not limit the traffic of Canada geese in the air,
and most likely just increase it.

New York City needs to do what many other major cities around the world are
doing to keep airports safe from potential bird strikes, such as employing
proven dissuasive tactics that keep birds out of the pathways of aircraft.
Habitat modification is being used successfully to discourage populations of
geese from colonizing the area. Geese numbers can be humanely reduced using
proven birth control developed especially for use in Canada geese.

I ask you to please immediately cancel this senseless killing of hundreds of
Canada geese and work with experts in non-lethal methods to come up with a
plan that is humane and effective.
Sincerely,


Friday, March 18, 2011

Heroes




 
(Photo:  Talking basketball or shooting geese while the world burns.)
 
I don't watch action or "hero" movies. 
 
I don't believe in Superman, Spiderman or that Bruce Willis will save us from the next catastrophe.
 
But, if ever we needed some real heroes, it is now.
 
But, we need them in leadership.
 
There are, of course very real and genuine heroes literally putting their lives on the line to walk into and try to work on what are surely death traps in Japan.
 
"The Fukushima Fifty" are a group of courageous, self-sacrificing souls doing everything they can to try and thwart a potential nuclear disaster of epic proportions. 
 
One cannot even imagine the kind of guts and fortitude it must require to walk into nuclear plants spewing out toxic radiation and on the verge of meltdown. 
 
 How does one beat down the normal instinct to survive?  How does one embark on what surely is a suicide mission?
 
Not being any kind of hero, I cannot answer those questions.   I can only thank God there are people willing to put themselves in such horrid and likely lethal situation for the sake of humanity and the planet.
 
So yes, there are genuine heroes subjecting themselves to the tortures of the damned to try and save us.  But, these people are so far, nameless and faceless.
 
What about the heroes in leadership?
 
That, we tragically are not seeing.
 
It is almost one full week now since Japan has been hit with the triple catastrophe of earthquake, Tsunami and perhaps worst of all, threat of full blown nuclear disaster.
 
The first two of course were not preventable.  The third one was.
 
But, it is too late now to talk of,  "would haves, could haves, should haves." 
 
But, one truly wonders if the leaders of both, Japan and the United States have been somewhat "out to lunch" over the past week?
 
Almost as soon as the catastrophes occurred, I wrote in this journal that we needed to gather the greatest brains in the world and put them to work to figure a way out of the potential nuclear calamity.
 
But, did that happen?
 
It seems not.
 
Instead, we have been watching Japanese workers trying to drop buckets of water over the rapidly heating up nuclear reactors.
 
One nuclear physicist likens that to "trying to put out a forest fire with a water pistol."
 
We have the brave Fukushima Fifty trying desperately to get the reactors plugged into electricity once again with the hope that water can again be pumped into the systems.
 
But, what happens if this is not successful OR the workers are forced to vacate if the radiation becomes too intense to even attempt work in?
 
No one seems to have an answer to those questions.
 
All these unknowns.  And all the unfathomable consequences if these efforts ultimately fail.
 
Consequences that could be far worse than Chernobyl.
 
It is shocking and extremely disappointing that with all this chaos and human tragedy occurring, our President was talking basketball on Wednesday and entertaining Irish musicians yesterday at the White House.
 
I am second generation Irish.   And even I didn't go to the parade yesterday or bother to wear green.
 
Moreover, I am not the President.
 
Now there is talk of the U.S. sending in special and powerful hoses that could pump water into the reactors in a last ditch effort to prevent them from melting down.
 
Why did it take so long?
 
Because Japanese leadership didn't apparently ask for our help in this until now!
 
Well, maybe we should have suggested it a week ago.  Or, better yet, insisted on it to the best of our capabilities!
 
This is not after all, just about the people in the immediate vicinity of the reactors.  Its about the ultimate health of the earth, the oceans and the 7 billion people on this planet.  
 
Mind you, I am not even mentioning the flora, fauna and animals on the planet.
 
I am not even talking about the geese who one nation has targeting for destruction shortly following an earthquake ("Blame the geese!") and who are now the main subject of this blog.
 
We desperately need the leaders of this world and all the great brains to step up to the plate and avert what could be cataclysmic tragedy unlike any other we have known. We need them to learn from and use this tragedy to avoid future nuclear disasters (presuming we safely get out of this one).
 
Its not the time to talk basketball, listen to music, plan vacations or shoot and gas geese while the world burns.
 
Its the time for real leadership.
 
Its the time for heroes who can make the difference between averting a catastrophic crisis or falling headlong into one while we talked sports or shot at geese. -- PCA
 
 
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