Sunday, January 20, 2013

Jessie's Choice

Jessie, the loner goose at Harlem Mere for more than a month, returned last night with her finally chosen family. A long, tough road for acceptance, but apparently, the practical decision for this goose who understands the wisdom of patience and choice for survival. 
The last time I saw Jessie, the "loner" Canada goose from Harlem Mere, she was tagging along with one of two goose families who were bouncing back and forth between the Mere and another location (probably the Central Park Reservoir).

That was about two weeks ago. 

At the time, it seemed a bit strange that of the two families, Jessie chose to hang with the one whose alpha gander appeared to be far more cantankerous and "rule enforcing" than the more peaceful, passive and laid back goose family. 

But, imagine my surprise when returning to the Mere the following night, not to find either Jessie or the butt-pecking, "cantankerous" family and their domineering leader?

Did Jessie leave with them? I wondered.

Since I did not witness Jessie actually leaving, I could not be sure of any answers.

But, I saw neither Jessie nor the loud and "dominant" family for the next two weeks.

I did not write about this for the obvious reasons of not knowing.  I figured at some point I would probably see Jessie again as neither of the families appeared to be migratory geese that might take off for far distance, but rather resident geese bouncing around Central Park.

That speculation turned out to be correct.

Over the past two weeks, I have of course been looking for Jessie each night.

But, she was not among the gaggle of seven geese who appeared on fairly regular basis.

The peaceful, passive geese, that is.

I am not sure if these seven geese are actually a family.  They appear to be fairly young with no "taskmaster" leader, though one gander does act as a lookout sentry.  Most nights they quietly arrive and partake of some treats. A couple of them gently take treats from my hand and all get along with each other, the swan and the ducks. 

But, last night was different, though it did not initially appear that way.

As usual, while tossing cracked corn to the domestic ducks and some mallards, I noticed a gaggle of seven geese swimming towards the embankment.

I figured it was the usual peaceful seven.

But, no sooner were the geese on the grass when one of them started back pecking, pushing and loudly honking at the others.

Hm, that is odd, I thought.

I checked the sky to see if there was a full moon, but there wasn't.  I couldn't figure why the peaceful seven were suddenly so, well, "cantankerous."

Then I noticed an eighth goose hesitantly swimming in the water and lately arriving on the scene.

The "tagger along" was Jessie!

Suddenly, everything made sense.

I realized this gaggle was not the peaceful seven I was used to seeing over the past two weeks, but rather, the boisterous family with the "rule stickling Papa" or alpha gander.

And boy, was he "stickling the rules" last night. So much so, he actually chased a couple of the young geese back in the water and flew them off to the other end of the lake!

I am not sure what that charade was all about. The only time I have seen that behavior before was when Papa goose (of Turtle Pond) used to chase off his yearling offsping when he wanted "alone time" with Mama again.

The banished youngsters eventually made their way back to the fold again and there was more back-pecking, honking and rule enforcing.

Meanwhile, Jessie respectfully kept to the perimeters of the group, seeming to accept her lowly status and being careful not to garner the scorn and correction of the alpha gander who last night seemed to be on the war path with his own "kids."

But, as crazy as this scene was to witness, what gave me a sense of relief and comfort was that Jessie had finally found and apparently been accepted (though mainly as a tag along) into a new goose family.

But, what I could not figure was why Jessie chose to join up with a family whose lead gander appears to be tough and impossible to please?

Why would she not go with the peaceful seven?  -- The geese who seem not to be sticklers for rules and hierarchy? 

Perhaps this is still just another way geese are a little like humans.

When it comes down to it, the gals always seem to go with the ones they feel are best prepared and will best protect them when the going gets tough.

And the going is soon to get very tough for geese, ducks and other city wildlife as this coming week, temperatures are projected to plunge to the low teens in New York City.

Virtually all the lakes in Central Park will soon become solid blocks of ice.

Jessie probably made the wise choice -- and none too soon.  --PCA


1 comment:

Mary Castrovilla said...

Hi Patty,

Again, a beautiful and touching post. (And yes, I too pray not only for wildlife, but also the homeless people and homeless cats and dogs)
Mary Castrovilla