(Photos: Recently arrived family of 8 geese at the Boat Lake last night. Oh joy!)
I am convinced Canada geese can read!
No sooner were Fishing Rules signs posted in Central Park and a seeming wildlife welcome mat put out, then some our feathered friends returned!
"OK, guys. The going is good in Central Park now. Pack up your wings and let's go!"
Yep, one can easily imagine the cacophony of honks that took place just prior to the geese taking off for the safety and luxuries of Central Park. I have no doubt Canada geese are capable of reading signs, newspaper columns and USDA "Goose Reports."
I received the news that 8 Canada geese had returned to the Boat Lake the other day from Lianna, a fellow wildlife lover and friend. Lianna surmised the 8 geese to be Buster, Bonnie and their six goslings who hatched at the Boat Lake this past spring.
But, I had to check out the happy event myself.
Like someone who had been roaming a desert for six weeks seeking water, I rushed to the Boat Lake yesterday seeking once again, the glory of the geese.
If the above sounds overly dramatic, that is not the intent, but rather the simple truth.
Central Park without geese is like a concert hall without a orchestra or a party without people.
The decorations and trimmings are there, but the music and vibrancy are missing.
Lord knows I love ducks and other wildlife. But, there is something so very magical and unique about the geese. I believe it is mostly their willingness to openly engage, trust and welcome people into their lives.
That in fact seems to be the thing that both endears geese to many people (like myself) or alienates them to those who for whatever reason, are fearful or even hostile towards the other creatures with whom we share this planet.
Yesterday was truly beautiful in Central Park -- in more ways than one.
Temperatures had fallen to give just a hint of winter and a light rain danced in and out of the overcast day.
I did not immediately find the geese when arriving to the Boat Lake. If the family was indeed Buster, Bonnie and their clan, they were not in the usual place to the north side of the lake.
And so I walked towards Bow Bridge where I soon spotted a gaggle of 8 geese swimming lazily on the lake.
How beautiful they looked. It was like discovering water in the desert!
Rushing to a winding path alongside the lake, I soon caught up to where the geese were swimming.
I cannot be sure if they recognized me or were just human friendly, but they immediately began to swim towards me as I walked to the edge of the lake.
Two young women sitting on a nearby bench remarked, "Oh, look at the pretty ducks!"
"Oh, they are not ducks." I laughed. "They're Canada geese."
"Oh yes, geese! Look at that. They are so friendly. They're coming right up to you! Do they know you?"
"I am actually not sure about that. I am thinking that they are the family of geese whose six babies hatched here over this past spring. But, since geese look alike, it is hard to tell. Apparently these geese just arrived in the past couple of days."
The young women and I continued to talk as the family of 8 geese made their way on to a rock and took some treats from my hand as if they indeed "knew me."
But, they seemed too peaceful, gentle and low key to be Buster and his demanding and self-entitled gang. I also got the "feeling" that the parent geese were younger than Buster and Bonnie because they appeared slightly lighter in color. But it was hard to know for sure.
I took out my camera and began to take photos.
"Wow, its like they pose for pictures for you!" one of the young women exclaimed.
"Yep, that is one of the great things about Canada geese. You don't need a fancy camera or binoculars. They are hams for a camera!"
"Do you mind us taking photos of you with the geese?" the women asked.
"Not at all. Just don't put it on the cover of Vogue!" I laughed.
It was a very pleasant conversation with the two young women, one of whom was visiting from Columbia. It was obvious that both of them had appreciation for nature and loved watching and taking photos of the geese. It was every bit as pleasurable an experience for them with the geese as it was for me.
The sun had gone down and the two women turned to leave as we exchanged parting pleasantries.
I stayed for a few more minutes trying to figure out if the newcomer geese were actually Buster and crew returned or some other geese.
They were too friendly and human trusting to be migratory geese. But, they just didn't seem to have the bravado and cockiness that I associate with Buster and his rowdy bunch.
Whoever this particular goose family, they looked remarkably fit and healthy and not at all like they had just traveled long and trying distance. It was apparent they were resident NYC geese, but I could not be sure from where exactly.
It's a little daunting that the goose family definitely seemed to "know" me, but I could not figure who they were.
Maybe geese are just smarter than some of us humans and have better memories?
Though I could not be certain of much last night (including the goose family's true identity), of one thing I am sure:
Canada geese know how to read signs.
And both this family of 8 geese at the Boat Lake and a newly arrived family of 5 geese at Turtle Pond read the posted "wildlife welcome mat" put out in Central Park this past week! -- PCA