Sunday, April 10, 2011

Mating Rituals and the Seductions of Spring

Never underestimate the protectiveness of a gander towards his mate, especially when the gal is sitting on a nest!:
But, truth be told, the female goose doesn't have to be nesting for her gander to be watching out for her safety like guards protecting Buckingham Palace.
Yesterday morning, I went to Harlem Meer with my dogs to check on all our little geese and duckie friends there.
As mentioned recently, there are not a whole lot of Canada geese at the Meer right now.
Yesterday, there was an odd total of nine.
I say, "odd" because all of the geese were in mated pairs except for one goose who appeared to be alone.
The one "loner" seemed to be a juvenile who is presumed to have been pushed away by the parent birds.  In fact, "Ralph and Alice" were not far away from the youngster.  But, when the young goose attempted to approach the older, settled couple, Ralph went after him quite vigorously (Behavior seen recently with Papa goose towards his grown goslings at Turtle Pond.)
Of course, one has to wonder where the rest of this young goose's siblings were or why he wasn't able to get "in" with another gaggle of geese?  Perhaps something happened to any siblings he might have had? 
Unfortunately,  it would be impossible for him to get an in with the established, mated  pairs of geese now at the Meer -- even his own parents.  
As matters were, the lone goose seemed to be hanging out near Brad and Angelina (the two flightless ducks) and within sight range of Ralph and Alice, who might in fact be his parents.
Speaking of Ralph and Alice, they are a fascinating pair.
Though not visibly nesting, Ralph protects Alice like she was the Queen of Sheba or the crown jewels.
I sat for about 15 minutes yesterday, watching these two romantic geese who were situated on the embankment near the Dana Center.  
Ralph stood like a sentry on a rock for the entire time, intently watching out for any potential challenges to either his mate or himself.  Meanwhile, lady love, Alice casually preened at herself on the embankment like one of the Kardashion sisters preparing for a media appearance or photo shoot. 
Alice fussed and fussed with her feathers and did everything, but put on lipstick! 
I almost wished I had a mirror to put in front of her!
When the younger lone goose ventured in a space near the two settled geese, Ralph immediately flew after and chased the poor goose at least 40 to 50 feet away.
Ralph then quickly returned to his lady love and took his sentry position back on the rock.
Alice paid no mind to him, but simply continued to preen, after which, she dug at some grass shoots in the ground.
It seems right now, the "job" of the ganders is to continually protect their mates, while the gals take special care to eat well and preen themselves.   They are like queens with attending servents.   If the gals say, "jump!" the ganders jump.
Meanwhile, I had to be especially careful to hold my two dogs back yesterday from the intense stares and couple of warning hisses from Ralph  Even though these two geese know my dogs and me quite well, Ralph these days, isn't about to take crap from anyone.
Fortunately, he had no objections to me shooting off some photos as long as keeping myself and my two dogs safe distance away.
After bidding farewell and leaving the two lovebirds to their protection and preening, I continued to walk with my dogs around the Meer.
Three other pairs of geese were swimming on the lake, though each pair a good distance from the others.
One pair of geese were particularly hilarious.
Situated in the middle of the lake, the two carried on as if in preparation for some kind of mating or dance ritual. 
A few feet from each other, the two geese took turns diving under the water and holding their butts straight up in the air!  (Talk about, "Bottoms Up!").
They did this repeatedly, until at one point, the amorous couple did the Bottoms Up in perfect synchronicity!
I whipped out my camera and shot a video of this truly fascinating spectical.  
While feeling tempted to issue the two lovebirds an invitation to "Dancing with the Stars" I quickly realized the gander would not tolerate millions of people staring at his sexy lady. 
That, could in fact be dangerous with millions of people suddenly going through plate glass windows like the naive and unfortunate cop from the article.
Finally leaving Harlem Meer, I gazed back at Ralph and Alice.  Ralph was still guarding and Alice, still preening.  She is quite gorgeous and pristine now.  Certainly ready for a romantic interlude under the moonlight.
And the two dancers were still doing their simultaneous "goose dives" on the water.
Ah, the rituals and seductions of spring!
And thankfully, the "Forever Wild" sign is still planted right outside the North Woods, near Harlem Meer.
Forever wild -- and romantic indeed!  ;)  -- PCA

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