Sunday, September 9, 2012

Can a Goose Die from a Broken Heart?

(Photos:   Danny, the loner goose at Harlem Meer.) 

I am concerned over Danny, the "owner of a lonely heart" goose at Harlem Meer.

I am not sure if Danny is in fact the same goose I saw the first week in August who was at the Meer for about a week and then seemingly flew off.

At the time, I named the goose, "Danny" to rhyme with "Annie" another loner goose at Turtle Pond at the time.  I thought the goose to be young and a male. I guessed he might have become separated from his family due to either the challenges of first flights or massive USDA goose massacres that occurred throughout the city during June and July. .

But, a few weeks ago I again discovered a "loner" goose at Harlem Meer.

Not really knowing, but guessing he was the same goose seen a couple of weeks earlier, I have been referring to him as "Danny" but the reality is he could be a different goose and could possibly even be female.

This phenomenon of "loner" geese in Central Park following the molting period  (and grizzly massacres) has truly been bizarre and bewildering -- especially if the goose at Harlem Meer now is not the same one observed early in August.

As noted, geese are flock birds and extremely bonded with mates and families.  The observance of geese as solitary birds is rare and certainly not what one would expect for any length of time barring illness or injury.

Annie left Turtle Pond less than two weeks after her arrival. 

But, "Danny" (if that is really who he is) has been at the Meer since either early August or (if not the same goose), since August 21st -- almost three weeks.

It seems strange that Danny hasn't flown off to seek his mate or family or at least attempted to integrate with the new family of geese who recently stayed at the Meer for nearly a week.

Though he does not appear to have obvious injury, part of me wonders if Danny might be unwell?

Compared to other geese, Danny's body posturing and activity levels appear low and depressed.

But, that could be attributed to grievance over loss of mate or family.

Yesterday, I came across an article about "loner" geese:

One sentence particularly stood out: 

"That (grieving) process can include sequestering itself from the flock, weight loss, and signs of submission to other geese for several weeks following its mate's death."  

All of the above is observed in Danny at Harlem Meer.

Although Danny recognizes and comes to me when I arrive to the Meer, he barely eats anything. Over the past few weeks, it seems his (or her) condition has deteriorated somewhat, though I am not sure exactly how or why.

I was greatly hoping last week that Danny would attempt acceptance into the new goose family that arrived and stayed a few days, but that did not happen.  Rather, as described above, Danny "sequestered" himself from the flock and showed signs of submission. 

The contrast in behaviors and body postures between the tightly knit and "happy" goose family and Danny was in fact, startling.   It was almost hard to believe they were the same species.

On the Call of the Canada Geese FB page today, a member asked if a rehabber has figured out why this goose is alone at the Meer all these weeks.  (25) Call of the Canada Geese .   I answered truthfully that no one has commented on any of my writings about Danny.

If contacting a rehabber, I am not sure what to say.

I am not sure after all, if what I am seeing is attributable to actual physical ailment or an animal deteriorating due to loss and grief.  

Perhaps the question to ask is, "Can a goose die from a broken heart?"  -- PCA


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