Friday, February 15, 2013

"Get Out Early!" - Canada Geese Take to Skies for Early Spring Migrations

"Getting Out Early" -- The 80 or so geese at Harlem Meer during and following blizzard already departed to places far north.
Carol, Connie, Connor and Cochise have their work cut out now that geese left and temperatures predicted to plunge over weekend.
Very interesting last night at Central Park:

Canada Geese definitely on the move now and migrating.  

Several flocks grazing on the North Meadow while holding strategy discussions with each other (I only see that during spring migrations.)  Other flocks honking and flying in the air over CP.  One group of about 40 Canada geese noisily landed in the Jackie Onassis Reservoir. 

Presumably, these migratory geese will rest and graze for a few hours or a day or two and move on.

Only 7 geese at Harlem Meer last night (guessing the same "resident" family that has been there off and on throughout winter.)

But, this is what was really interesting:

Since the 80 or so geese briefly at the Meer during and after the blizzard departed, the pool of open water has shrunk substantially.

The six domestic ducks, seeming to sense their plight, only came for a few morsels of food last night and immediately left to "work the water." (Dunking, diving, constant swimming.)

Though temps are very mild in New York City today (50 degrees), they are projected to dive to the teens over the weekend as an "Arctic cold blast" arrives later tonight (along with some snow). 

One wonders how, without a human weather forecaster, the domestic ducks seem to know this?  It seems animals in nature, including domestic waterfowl have their own built in radar and dopler weather predictors.

The geese definitely make a difference.  Without them, the domestic ducks have to work all that harder to maintain open water -- and they seem to know that.  

The mallards on the other hand, can leave if the entire lake freezes over and conditions deteriorate. The mallards last night, appeared unperturbed about the dramatic shifts in temperature that are about to occur. They have options, the domestic (flightless) ducks don't.

Today, there is an interesting article that claims snow geese are the first to leave on fall migrations and the first birds to return to northern locations during spring migrations:

But, I personally have some doubts about this.

There is little question that many Canada geese have already begun spring migrations and others are in the process of quickly gathering and fueling up just prior to the migrations.

I cannot say of course, which geese actually arrive to their northern home and nesting locations first, but I would be willing to put money on the Canadas.

Since Canada geese are a favorite target for hunters, it is to their advantage and safety to embark on their spring migrations as early as possible in order to avoid the "expanded hunting seasons" in many US locations, including New York.

Last year, (due to an extremely warm winter) migratory Canada geese left Central Park as early as late January.

This year has been more normal in terms of temperature, so they are leaving later.

But, the watchword still seems to be, "Get out early" before the spring hunting season hits.

Better to deal any day with icy lakes and snow, than hails of bullets.  -- PCA


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