Thursday, June 7, 2012

The Wisdom of Elder Geese When USDA Comes to Town

Photos:1-- A gaggle of newly arrived young geese at Boat Lake this morning. 2-- Papa goose.  3-- Papa, Mama and grown kids on home rock this morning.
The geese are on the move.
A few more geese recently flew into the Boat Lake in Central Park.  That seems to be the location that most of the Central Park resident geese are molting this summer.
Mama and Papa no longer have the home rock to themselves.  It appears their grown goslings from 2010 have joined them there for the upcoming molt, as well as one or two chums.
But, Papa is not at all happy about the small gaggle of young geese who recently planted themselves at the Boat Lake.
Papa may be "old" but he can still pack a good wallop to the backsides of young geese he would like to send packing.  "Come on, move on now!  Its dangerous for us to be too many in one place over the summer!"
Or perhaps Papa is just informing the newcomers of Boat Lake "rules" and hierarchy.
Though no longer at the very top of the goose hierarchy at the Boat Lake, (the new goose family is), Papa still calls most of the shots there.  He is respected presumably because of his and Mama's ages, wisdom and the fact they have produced young in the past.
Nevertheless, it was interesting to observe the other night, Mama and Papa's deference to the new goose family.  As soon as the new parents arrived with their six quickly growing goslings to the rocks at the edge of the Ramble, Mama and Papa quietly left without fanfare or complaint.
The same however was not true of two of Mama and Papa's grown "kids" who were also on the rock.   Now, two years old and apparently feeling some bravado, the two young geese moved to the far side of the rock, but refused to actually leave it.
The new goose family tolerated them for a while, but eventually Mother goose decided the two loafing youngsters had to go.
She made a move towards them, but the gander of the two raised his head, honked and refused to leave the rock. ("My family was here before you guys!")
That is when Bozo (the Daddy gander) made a lightening fast bee line towards the stubborn youngster and in the flash of an eye, the rebellious, but defeated "rascal" was suddenly in the water with his female sibling.  The two went slipping away in the water, presumably to go home and cry to their parents, Mama and Papa who by then were back on the home rock.
Daddy geese don't fool around. When they say, "go" a young goose had better move.
I thought the scene was quite funny to watch.
There was also much "goosing" this morning at the rock off the Ramble. 
First it was Papa goose nipping hard at the butts of the newcomers.
But, then after Mama and Papa finally left, the 4 siblings appeared to be fighting for position among themselves.
There was in fact so much butt pecking, I finally said, "Come on!  Its a beautiful morning. Why can't you guys just relax and get along?"
Eventually they settled down and I could see that they appeared to be very young geese -- perhaps only a year old.  The two females didn't appear to be much bigger than the new goslings at the lake. Their young brothers just seemed to be full of "spring oats" so to speak. 
But, all of this is likely preparation for the challenges of adulthood when it will be the ganders' "jobs" to protect mates and offspring by shooing and "goosing" other geese away.
I didn't see the new goose family this morning, but that is not unusual.
Usually they are not at the north part of the Boat Lake in the mornings.
My guess is they are either grazing on some of the grassy lawns off the Boat Lake or begging treats from obliging tourists near Bethesda Fountain. 
Bozo and Bonnie (the parents) have Central Park figured out pretty well.
Usually when I go to the Boat Lake in the evenings, I don't initially see the family.  But, then they suddenly pop up swimming in the water from seemingly nowhere.
But, in the mornings, I am guessing they find other suckers at the south part of the lake.
And their young goslings are becoming every bit as brazen and bold as their parents, occasionally nipping at human handbags demanding treats.
Considering I didn't even know about this family until just a couple of weeks ago, it had to be other humans who "trained" them to expect and demand.
Still, as funny and amusing as it is to observe the interactions between young and old, parents, kids and teenagers, I  am a bit worried to see the geese seemingly clustered in one place over the summer molt.  Last year they were more spread out throughout Central Park.   
Papa goose is smart to be goosing the butts of young newcomers and seemingly attempting to warn them that too many geese in one place could be deadly over next few weeks.  -- Especially when the USDA "Wildlife (extermination) Services" comes to town.
This morning there is this article from the Queens Chronicle. 
Note especially the quote from Carol Bannerman, spokesperson for the USDA. 
She claims we have as many geese in NYC now as was in the entire country in 1970.
Bannerman doesn't say that the geese were tottering on extinction in the last century.
Apparently, "extinction" of Canada geese in NYC is not only acceptable, but desirable according to spokespersons for the USDA.  
Papa goose apparently reads newspapers and the youngsters would do well to heed his warnings.  -- PCA

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