Saturday, April 23, 2011

Organized and Efficient Patterns of the Geese, Unless.......

(Photo: (Mama goose at Turtle Pond sitting on new eggs.)

How much pressure, harassment and egg destruction are Canada geese under right now?
Apparently, so much so,  that one pair of geese have set up their nesting site right outside a police station. 
Talk about seeking safety and protection!
The other day I was asked if any geese are nesting at Harlem Meer?
I have not noted any geese attempting to nest at the Meer for the several years I have been going there.
I am guessing the reason is that the Meer does not afford the geese a high sense of safety and protection for raising young as Turtle Pond does.
As recently reported, the Mama and Papa geese at Turtle Pond have set their nest up (again) in a highly protected and inaccessible rock area around Belvedere Castle.  It is a location that neither the public nor dogs can get to.
Once hatched, the baby goslings have very short distance to go with their Mother to the pond.  Moreover, there are many protected grass areas around Turtle Pond that are off limits to the public and dogs and contain fencing around them, (specifically, the "Wildlife Corridor").
I remember an official from Central Park Conservancy telling me that some people complain about the fencing ("off limits" areas) around Turtle Pond. 
But, it is absolutely vital to have such areas for the protection of fragile wildlife and waterfowl.
Turtle Pond is thus, almost ideal habitat for geese or mallards to raise young.  Without the protected fenced areas, the flightless goslings (or molting geese) would be very vulnerable to free-running dogs during the park's morning and night off-leash hours.
Unfortunately, as lovely and hospitable as Harlem Meer may be for the geese and mallards who can fly, it is less safe and predictable for those who can't fly as there are far fewer "protected" and fenced off areas.
This past winter, Joey, the white Pekin (flightless) duck was attacked on the ice by a dog and subsequently required rescue and placement.
Joey's two flightless siblings vanished from the Meer last spring and were presumed to have been victims of human cruelty.
Although Brad and Angelina (domestic, flightless ducks) have apparently survived at the Meer for a number of years, it is not without great awareness and caution on their parts.
Unlike the mallards who can fly, one never observes Brad or Angelina far from a fast escape route via quick access to the water.
They are extremely alert and aware birds.
One of the reasons why Brad and Anglina primarily stay under the willow tree near the Dana Center is because it is one of the few areas "off limits" to the public and protected by a small fence around it.
But, as noted, there is not a lot of protective fencing around Harlem Meer.
Nor are there high rock areas where geese might nest as there are at Turtle Pond.
So, as matters stand, the Canada geese neither attempt to breed at Harlem Meer nor molt in that location.
Usually all the geese take off from the Meer in May presumably to breed and molt in safer locations.
Following molting and raising young, large numbers of the geese again return to the Meer (usually in late July or early August).
The family from Turtle Pond in fact, flew to Harlem Meer once the goslings developed flight wings last summer and stayed there for a number of weeks, mingling with other geese.
I wonder if in fact, Harlem Meer (in addition to being a popular "singles" location for geese) might also be a family unification area and launching point for gaggles of geese to migrate together with the arrival of winter?
The patterns that appear to be in place now seem to suggest that.
If, for example, staying to their pattern of last year, then Mama and Papa geese will raise their young at Turtle Pond, but then return to the Meer when the young ones are able to fly and the parents grow their new flight feathers. 
Presumably, they would meet up again with their goslings from last year.
Then, the entire family would "migrate" to wherever it is they spend the winter.
I am of course guessing at all this stuff simply from what has been observed over the past few years.
But, there definitely seems very organized and efficient pattern to all the comings and goings of the geese.
That is, if humans don't intervene, harass and destroy.
When humans do interfere, then all bets are off.
Including the strange unlikelihoods (and breaking of usual patterns) of geese setting up nests in shopping malls and near police stations.  -- PCA

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