Sunday, March 31, 2013

Easter Sunday with the Ducks, Geese and Swan

Romantic goose pair, Harlem Meer
Connie and Conner, off for romantic swim.
Mallard drake, smitten with and protective of Honker.
Gander protecting while mate grazes.
Hector, in thoughts of his lost love.
A Journey of Religion

Below is a touching and inspiring video of one priest's journey to veganism.

Perhaps befitting for Easter Sunday.

I am also pleased with the new Pope selection.   According to the Catholic faith, St. Francis is the patron saint of animals.   Additionally, the new Pope has already spoken out about the need to protect the ecology and environment.

Perhaps there is still hope for Catholicism. I have not yet given up on it -- though still find my personal peace with the geese, ducks and other animals, rather than in a church.

I guess we all find our own path.

Easter Sunday at the Meer

While millions of others donned Easter finery today and attended church services, I sported jeans and sneakers and journeyed to Harlem Meer in Central Park shortly following dawn this morning.

Most of the geese and mallards are gone, though some still remain (mostly ducks).

In past years, I thought these departures due to the changes and migrations of spring.

But, since noting the Geese Police van last week in Central Park, I am now not so sure.

That is another thing disconcerting about goose "harassment" when it is conducted.

One has no way of knowing what is normal and natural and what is not.

I am glad now that I had opportunity to personally witness scores of migratory Canada geese taking off from the Jackie Onassis Reservoir some weeks back to begin their arduous journeys north to Canada. 

It was an incredibly beautiful, natural and wondrous experience.  By far the best in Central Park over the past year.

And,  I know those particular geese were not harassed.

But, in terms of fluctuating goose numbers over the past few weeks, I don't know whether they were migratory geese stopping briefly for rest and then moving on or they were resident geese who were harassed out of the park.

This morning, I saw only two pairs of geese at the Meer and
one pair at the Reservoir.

Numbers may continue to fluctuate as I understand from the video below and others, many geese are still in the midst of late migrations (due to a cold and snowy March throughout the mid west and north east)      

I have to hope that any late migrating geese who briefly stop to rest in Central Park will not be harassed, but such hope is probably for naught.

New York City's "war on Canada geese" is only beginning.

Love in Bloom For Most, But Not All.

For the ducks and geese still in Central Park, "romance" is in full bloom.

It is common now to see pairs of mallards romantically strolling in the grasses around the Meer in the evening like little humans.   Geese are also in pairs, the ganders of which stake out and protect territory and eagerly chase off any other geese.

The four domestic ducks (Cochise, Connor, Carol and Connie) can sometimes also be seen dividing into pairs in recent days.

But, perhaps the biggest surprise is that both, Honker and Wiggly (the two female Kacki Campbell ducks) have taken up with mallard drakes!

Wiggly of course is no surprise because since January, she has been followed around devotedly, by a drake I named "Romeo."  

But, over the past week or so, Honker too, has attracted the affections of a mallard drake.

I am not sure what to make of these "birds of unlike feather" taking up together, but both Wiggly and Honker appear to enjoy the protection and guarding that the mallard drakes provide.

It appeared this morning that there were more mallard drakes at the Meer than hens so perhaps this sexual imbalance helps to explain two drakes looking outside of their gene pool for "romance" (though this was not true in January and thus does not explain the love sick Romeo).

The two drakes even chase off other ducks while wooing their "exotic" sweethearts, Wiggly and Honker.  

Meanwhile, the long widowed swan, Hector, is still without mate or flock.

Ah, that only some lonely, female swan would magically fly into the Meer this Easter.

A handsome swan awaits.   -- PCA


Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Spring has Sprung -- "Get the Flock Out!"

Canada goose, Central Park.  Here and then gone. Geese get their "flying papers" from city parks as weather warms.
 Ah, the first signs of spring!

New buds on trees, temperatures finally starting to warm, human activity returning to the park and Geese ("Get the Flock Out") Police.

I saw the white van with the fascinating logo early Sunday morning in Central Park.

It appeared to be doing a survey of the goose population in the park. First observed driving around Harlem Meer and some time later, at Turtle Pond and the Boat Lake.

At that time, there were about 25 geese at the Meer, 2 geese at Turtle Pond and perhaps a couple of dozen geese at the Boat Lake.

Two days later, there are few geese to be seen anywhere in the park.

Last night, I noticed a dramatic reduction in not only the geese at Harlem Meer, but also, the mallards who numbered about half of what they normally do.

I counted only 4 geese.

My friend, Liliana who monitors the birds at the Boat Lake reported seeing only 4 geese there yesterday.

Presumably, these geese (unless acclimated to harassment) will also be gone within a week or two.

I am at loss at what exactly to say about this.

Part of me obviously hates it.

Canada geese are harassed almost everywhere these days.  And when they are not being harassed, they are being shot at or rounded up and slaughtered.

Where exactly are the birds supposed to go

Certainly not to "Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge" where, last summer, more than 700 Canada geese were rounded up and slaughtered.

With drought effecting half the country, much of natural wetlands destroyed or developed, and so-called "refuges" turned into slaughterhouses,  it seems geese will need to set up house in shopping malls or on people's lawns and swimming pools.

Ah, I can already hear the complaints.

And that is what of course accounts for the harassment in Central Park.

Those people, who during the nice weather, show up to complain about any wildlife mysteriously still in a park.

Them -- and the public officials who declare "war" on Canada geese or any wildlife that dares show up in a city park or wildlife "refuge."

Yes, the geese need to be chased out of Central Park, because were they to congregate there over the summer, they would surely be subjected to a USDA "Wildlife Services" slaughter.

"Get the flock out!"

What a cute turn of phrase.   21st century play on words and curse.

We love God, but cannot tolerate His creations (One reason I don't go to church anymore).

Ah yes, spring has sprung.

And what was seemingly a wildlife refuge over the harsh winter is soon to become simply a greener version of Times Square.

That only I could turn back the clock a couple of months to the good old days of ice, winds, blizzard and hurricane.  

Winter, the season of ironic peace.

But, now it is spring.

Time to "Get the flock out!"  -- PCA


Friday, March 22, 2013

"You Lied!" Say the Ducks and Geese to the Groundhog

Canada goose, Harlem Meer.  Waiting out a winter that doesn't want to leave.
 "You lied!"

One could imagine the geese and ducks yelling the above to the groundhogs, who in February, predicted we would have an "early spring" on the east coast.

But, unlike last year, this winter in New York City has seemingly continued for months and months -- including into the official start of spring.

Last night temperatures fell below freezing with wind chills in the teens.  The same is predicted for the rest of the week.  One could almost imagine new spring buds crawling back into the trees. "Burrr!  Lets wait another week or two!"

Because winter temperatures have dragged on past normal dates, bird migrations have been later this year and so far, most of the ducks are still exhibiting winter behaviors.

Last year at this time, most mallards had left Harlem Meer (for wherever they go in the spring) and there were just a few resident geese as all the migratory geese had departed weeks earlier.

But, most of the mallards are still at the Meer and I have so far seen little in the way of "territorial" and mating squabbles.

Most of the geese still remain in family groups, though there is evidence of some dominant ganders pushing youngsters out in order to get alone time with their mates. The geese for the most part, seem to be bouncing around now between Harlem Meer and the Boat Lake in Central Park.  

It is hard to tell which of the geese are actually "resident" and which are still migratory geese who are either stopping by on late journeys north or laid back migratory stragglers who did not leave Central Park with the rest of wintering migratory flocks.

There are currently more geese in Central Park now than last year at this time. But, one suspects that will change when the weather finally warms to normal temperatures and the geese start thinking seriously about returning to nesting locations.

So far (as in winter), most the waterfowl appear more concentrated on just staying warm for the moment, fueling up and keeping together.

In that sense, they are not different from us humans.

The calendar may say, "spring" but it is not yet time to put away the hats, scarves and gloves.

Ol' man winter has decided to hang on a while longer. -- PCA


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Spring, an Unknown Entity in New York City -- What Will it Bring to our Waterfowl?

Jessie -- Canada goose survivor of loss and hard knocks.
Dominant goose family at Harlem Meer peers over the lay of the land.
"Romeo," the love sick drake tagging behind his lady love, Wiggly. Honker, another female domestic duck along for the ride.  
Connor, Cochise, Connie and Carol. Four domestic ducks abandoned last November have made it through the winter with non-flying feathers.
The calendar may say "spring" but yesterday we had snow in New York City and the temperatures are not predicted to get out of the 30's and 40's for nearly the rest of the month.

Despite a colder-than-normal winter in New York, I am happy to say (once again) that all personally known ducks, geese and one swan made it through the challenging times with nary a feather out of place.

Cochise, Conner, Connie and Carol, the four domestic ducks abandoned to Harlem Meer last November apparently took their cues from the other ducks present, learned quickly and are now the epitomes of health, vibrance and alertness.

Wiggly and Honker, the other two (female) domestic ducks at the Meer for more than a year still continue to play a lead role in showing others what to do when the going gets rough. 

Wiggly is mostly a quiet and unassuming leader. However, her position is well known and respected among her peers, most notably, a mallard drake who for some months has followed Wiggly around like a love sick puppy. 

Even when the lake nearly entirely froze over in January and all the other mallards temporarily vacated, "Romeo" stayed behind to be with his lady love and aid her in keeping open water.  

For her part, Wiggly mostly ignores the romantic pursuits of her passionate suitor, but she is not hostile or rejecting of them.  "Whatever" seems to be her attitude -- at least for the moment.

It will however, be interesting to see what happens when the bitter cold finally departs and thoughts of the wildlife turn to love.  

Will Wiggly finally start to notice and reciprocate the attentions and devotion of her relentless Romeo or will she push him away? 

They are after all, "ducks of a different feather."

So far, no domestic ducks observed over the years have successfully hatched or raised ducklings.  It appears they don't know how to nest and protect eggs in the wild.  

But, perhaps things may be different this year?

Romeo is certainly one determined duck who doesn't seem to take "no" for an answer. But, in the end, it will all be left up to Wiggly. I am not sure she wants to take on the role of motherhood yet.  Any ducklings produced with a mallard would be hybrids and their survival would be doubtful.  I am not sure they could even fly as Wiggly cannot.

As for Conner, Cochise, Connie and Carol, (the other domestics) they are already paired up and tightly knit. But, it is one thing to survive in the wild.  It is another to successfully raise young -- especially in a heavily human and dog used park during warm weather.

I don't expect to see ducklings from them, but who knows?  So far, these four "barn" ducks have proven themselves to be extremely smart and resilient, so perhaps anything is possible.

Despite the survival of all known geese, ducks and one swan over the winter, there is one goose who did not have an easy time of it.

That is Jessie, the "loner" goose discovered at the Meer in December who apparently lost her mate or family.

For some weeks, Jessie continued to wait and search,  often "calling out" in the water or along the embankment.  But as the weather became more hostile and it was clear Jessie was not going to be reunited with her lost flockmate(s), she eventually was compelled to "tag along" with a new goose family.  Unfortunately, the lead gander of the chosen family was (and is) quite the task master and is not known for warm and fuzzy acceptance of new flock members.

Jessie has the scars and missing feathers to show for her (so far) hard life.  She is the low goose on the totem pole and has to put up with almost constant chasing, pecking and harassment from the others, particularly the lead gander.

But, as the weather warms, the lead gander will eventually "kick the kids out of the nest" (and is already showing signs of that) to again be solely with his mate.

It is hoped that at that time Jessie can eventually know some peace and acceptance by either staying with the younger, unpaired geese (who are not so combative) or if old enough, finding a new mate.

Much remains to be seen.

So, as old man winter prepares to begrudgingly leave and the hormones of spring begin to kick in, there are changes that will inevitably come.

My hope is that they will be the kind of changes associated with new life and renewal and not those too often associated with spring and summers in New York City -- Goose massacres and waterfowl injuries due to discarded fishing lines and barbed hooks.

Spring, an unknown and often forbidding entity in New York City.  -- PCA


Monday, March 18, 2013

Winter Winds, Face Recognition and Tangled Webs of Deception

The haunting, skeletal trees in winter blowing in the wind. I will miss this.....
"I see you!" -- Beautiful Jessie.
The Birds, The Wind and Me

Bouncing around YouTube, I stumbled upon this song which was a favorite when I was a kid.   ("The Wayward Wind" by Gogi Grant)

"Next of kin to the wayward wind."

I relate to this, particularly over the past few months.   Very chilly and blustery winter in New York, but have grown to really love it.  Will hate to see winter go.    With it, go most of the geese.

So far (though spring is less than a week away), it has remained cold, gray and stormy in NYC.

But, I am hanging on to it like an icicle clinging to a tree.

Central Park has been so beautiful, quiet and "wild" over the past several months -- especially at night.

Many times I felt it was just the birds, the wind and me.

But, all of that will soon change.  

And I am not looking forward to it.

They Never Forget a Face -- Pigeons, Crows, Ducks and Geese's Abilities to Recognize and Remember.

A fascinating article about pigeons' abilities to recognize and remember human faces:

But, of course this is not just true of pigeons, but crows, geese and ducks as well.

Though she was gone for two months, Jessie immediately recognized me when returning to Harlem Meer this past week.  I usually wear different clothes and I don't always have my two dogs two with me so I know the recognition has nothing to do with those things.

Canada geese in fact, have excellent memories of human faces that can span years.

When "Mama and Papa" returned to Turtle Pond with their yearling goslings after being gone for almost a year, all geese immediately recognized me in 2011.

Apparently, the night vision of Canada geese -- and ducks is also excellent.

"Buster" (the lead gander of the feisty goose family) and his charges come flying from clear across the darkened lake when I show up, as do the domestic ducks.

I often don't see them when arriving to the Meer, but they certainly see me from quite far away.

And as geese and ducks quickly learn which humans to trust and which not, they also learn the same about other animals, including dogs -- which are naturally considered an enemy.

Both geese and ducks will readily walk up to my two dogs as they know they have nothing to fear from them.   But, they will bolt back into the water when other dogs pass.  Even old Hector, the swan has learned to trust my dogs -- though he generally hates dogs.

It seems a bit odd that scientists are only discovering these facts about pigeons now -- and apparently still haven't caught on about geese and ducks' similar abilities.

One would think these things would have been observed and known for hundreds of years.

Go figure.

"Oh, What a Tangled Web We Weave, When at First We Deceive."

If the CBS quote about "250,000 Canada geese in Westchester" made my hair stand up this past week, the statement from Mamaroneck Mayor, Norm Rosenblum that relocated "to one of the Carolinas" (flightless) geese suddenly flew back to Mamaroneck "before the trucks returned " totally blows one's mind:

The grossly inflated goose number figure cited in the first instance can be attributed to "mistake" or laziness on the part of the media and specifically, the CBS reporter. But, its doubtful there was deliberate intent to deceive and mislead.

But, in the second instance, there appears deliberate attempt to mislead and deceive both, the media and the public.

The mayor may have released a keg of worms in opening up this "past roundup and relocation" dialogue.

Its probable that some kind of past goose roundup occurred in Mamaroneck because its unlikely Rosenblum made the entire story up.

But, was the community and the press informed of this at the time?

When did the claimed goose roundup occur? Who or what conducted the roundup? And exactly where were the geese supposedly "relocated?"

Since geese are common everywhere, no community would welcome flocks of them sent from another location.  Usually when rounded up, the geese are either gassed or slaughtered (especially in New York).  

If geese from Mamaroneck were killed and the community was not informed, that is a huge issue, as community notification is a legal requirement for goose culls. 

However, in rare instances geese are "relocated" somewhere else.  But, that is usually to hunting ranges.  Flightless geese are literally "sitting ducks" in those instances.

The mayor truly steps into it by claiming the supposedly "relocated" geese returned to Mamaroneck "before the trucks."  

Flightless, molting geese don't fly.  (And that is precisely why geese are easily rounded up during their molting period -- They cannot escape.)   

But, if (other) geese  flew into Mamaroneck immediately following a claimed roundup, then that is proof positive that these roundups DO NOT WORK.   As long as the environment remains a goose paradise (water, short grass, open space) then other geese will fill the void creating a claimed "need" for further killing.

There are in fact, rare instances when USDA uses drugs (laced into food) and rocket nets to capture geese other times of the year when the birds can fly. 

But, that raises a whole new bunch of questions such as the impacts on the environment and other wildlife.

Moreover, drugged geese don't fly either.

So, why does Mayor Rosenblum make this claim if it is not true? 

That is the million dollar question.

When seeking justifications and rationalizations for any kind of slaughter, it is unacceptable to resort to lies -- especially from government officials.

Mayor Rosenblum is advertising either his total ignorance on geese and past "goose management" in Mamaroneck or he is showing his willingness to lie in order to get what he wants.

Either way, it is a tangled web of muck. -- PCA


Friday, March 15, 2013

Media Responsibility to Correct Mistakes -- Does it Exist?

Canada goose.  "To cull or not to cull?" It depends upon numbers. -- Numbers too often inflated and misreported by media.  
Fox News did its homework this past week in properly researching and reporting some of the animal abuses and brutality of USDA "Wildlife Services."

This is the second of its two excellent reports:

However, while Fox reporter, Christina Corbin was busy digging up facts, some of the folks over at CBS New York were apparently throwing facts at the wind.

On Wednesday night, the local CBS news (and reporter, Dick Brennan) reported that "The Canada goose population in Westchester has grown to 250,000."

The "250,000" figure cited is the DEC estimated number of
Canada geese for the entire state of New York:

This is no small error.  To cite a wildly inflated number of geese in a community (most likely larger than the human population in Westchester) is to grossly mislead the viewing audience or readership into believing there is an out of control goose "infestation" in the town.

Of course people are then going to clamor, "Something must be done about the geese!"

Personally, I attempted to both leave comment and also call into CBS New York to point out this glaring error and request correction.

But, it appears reporters and news agencies rarely correct their mistakes.  If the public is misled, so be it.

But, that kind of mistake can and will most likely be deadly, not just for geese in Mamaroneck, but geese all over Long Island and New York City.

Totally inexcusable and unacceptable.

New agencies bear responsibility for checking and reporting facts, as well as correcting any mistakes.

WCBS blows much of its credibility to allow a mistake like this to go uncorrected (even when pointed out to them) and one must now take with a grain of salt anything they supposedly "report."

Media is too often lazy and in bed with the very people they are supposedly in charge of overseeing and reporting on. It appears the days of the "Fourth Estate" being watchdogs for government, rather than mouthpieces for it are coming to a scary end.

Certainly, we cannot take as gospel truth that which often goes under the heading as "news."

We have do our own research, observation and thinking. -- PCA

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Rationalization of Wildlife Killings and Goose Family Orders (Return of Jessie)

Return of Jessie, the "loner goose." - Brave little goose whose choices aren't always understandable, but apparently necessary for her survival.
"Dad" -- Lead gander of Jessie's adopted family. So intimidating and bossy that even Hector the swan keeps respectful distance.
"We Don't Condone.  We Just Do."

Fox News has apparently dug its heels into USDA "Wildlife Services."

Today, there is a follow-up to yesterday's excellent report, this one dealing specifically with WS's killing of pets (also, a must read to share with others):

It is interesting that in nearly all of these articles, WS claims that it "does not condone animal cruelty" and usually attributes reports of brutality to isolated incidents.

One imagines that if interviewing murderers in prison, most would say they "do not condone murder," but did it anyway.

A good example of that is murder defendant, Jodi Arias who, when recently testifying on the stand claims she is morally opposed to violence and murder.  But, she has admitted to violently murdering her ex-boyfriend (by shooting and multiple stabbing) supposedly in "self defense."

Wildlife Services cannot cry supposed self defense in its systematic brutality and killing of millions of animals a year, including family pets.

But, it can always use euphemisms to cover up those crimes (such as "euthanasia") and attribute any documented abuses to isolated incidents, exaggeration or over zealous reporters.

And of course they can always claim they "don't condone animal cruelty."

No, like Arias and other killers, they just do it.

It seems that what we "don't condone" in others is somehow acceptable to ourselves provided we can conjure up enough rationalizations and euphemisms for it.

Family Orders

The migratory geese who spent a good part of the winter at Central Park's Reservoir have departed both, the Reservoir and the North Meadow where many had been "fueling up" on grass just prior to their long journeys north.

Things are eerily quiet now that migratory geese have left these two locations, though there is still plenty of waterfowl activity at Harlem Meer.

Although migratory geese have seemed to also leave the Meer,  two families of geese remain, both of whom can be presumed to be resident NYC geese.

One of these is the "bad family" that Jessie (the loner goose present a few months ago), joined up with in January.  (I call them the "bad family" because the lead gander is particularly intimidating and bossy to both, his own family and other geese and his presumed "kids" are taking up much of the same behavior.)

It was a pleasant surprise to note Jessie's return earlier in the week with her "adopted" family, though her status appears to be no higher than when she left with them two months ago.

Jessie is still a low status, "tag along" goose who though while traveling with the family and staying in their general vicinity, is careful to always keep respectful distance.

Two nights in a row, I found Jessie roosting alone on the same familiar embankment while the rest of the gaggle was in the water nearby.

When all the geese gathered on the embankment to grab some cracked corn, Jessie was chased and pecked by several members of the gaggle, especially the temperamental "dad."  At least several times she was sent unceremoniously back into the water.  But, Jessie always returned.  (Dad is also giving his own kids the "bums rush" so to speak, but that is normal paternal behavior in spring when ganders want alone time with their mates.)

I have long been puzzled why Jessie chose to tag along with this family (who appear quiet cantankerous and unwelcoming) as opposed to the more peaceful and laid back family of seven geese who, like this group, also have bounced back between the Meer and the Reservoir over the winter.

I guess Jessie feels particularly "safe" and protected around the mean family, though there is obviously a price for that. 

She is the odd goose out.

Meanwhile, the other geese (who I am guessing to be "the peaceful seven") mostly stay to the far south east side of the lake.  One supposes if they dare to venture over some invisible line in the water, they catch hell from Jessie's adopted family -- though certainly not from poor Jessie herself.  She is extremely yielding and timid, though able to hold her own.

I am guessing the roughly 15 geese at the Meer now will only be there for the next few weeks -- or until the weather warms and fishermen (and other human activites) return to the Meer in force.

Weather for March is still a bit chilly in New York City and below normal temperatures.

But, for the geese and ducks of our parks, that is actually a good thing.

Peace (for the moment) still reigns. -- PCA


Tuesday, March 12, 2013

USDA Wildlife Services -- Conductors of Animal Torture, Abuse and Incompetence

 The report below (which is a must read) is from Fox News today:

It reminds me of a story that Cleveland Amory, writer and founder of the Fund for Animals used to tell:

"I was in a debate with a vivisector one day.  I asked him his views on the experiment in which a dog's head was transplanted on the body of a cat.  He proceeded to explain the reasons and importance of such research to which I then responded:  'I just made up that experiment to prove that you would defend anything.'" 

It seems Carol Bannerman and her pals at USDA "Wildlife Services" would also defend anything, including the deliberate experimental poisoning of dogs who were supposed to be "euthanized" in a shelter.  It makes Wildlife Services' definition of "euthanasia" a complete and egregious lie.

The fact is, if we cannot trust WS on simple word definition, we cannot trust them on anything -- including the so-called "humane" goose roundups and slaughters conducted in city parks and so-called, "wildlife refuges."

But, if such reports are horrifying in their sheer barbarism and cruelty, they are mystifying in terms of government wastes of money and actually exacerbating a problem, rather than supposedly "solving" it.

Note this passage from the article:

"And the more coyotes that are killed, the more coyotes will reproduce. If a member of the pack is killed, for instance, the alpha female responds by producing more litters. 
"Not only is this ethically indefensible, it's ecologically insane," Camilla Fox, executive director of Project Coyote, said of the killings each year by the predator control program."

Scientific studies have been conducted that show coyotes breed younger, more often and produce larger litters in areas they are preyed upon by humans as compared to areas they are not.  This is known as compensational reproduction.    

One suspects the same is true of geese, who like coyotes (and humans) are wily, adaptable and intelligent. 

Under these ecological realities, not only are WS animal extermination programs exceedingly cruel and brutal, they are also ineffective in limiting population growth.  In fact, one could say they actually exacerbate so-called "overpopulation problems" by causing animals to breed more than they normally would. 

So, what are the solutions to nature-intolerant people like Kathie Lee Gifford who, on the Today show yesterday blamed geese because her untrained dogs don't respond to the "come" command and her husband who "scratched" himself cleaning the dog is on "blood thinners?"

Gifford might do well to read one of the comments posted on her Hoda and Kathie Lee blog yesterday: (Can you help KLG with her goose problem? - KLG and Hoda ):

".....As a professional dog trainer, I used some of my techniques on one particular male and female pair of geese that came to our home and adjoining pond. Within a few weeks they would actually "Come when called" and fly to greet me. Most people cannot get their dogs to do that! They nested for four years and brought their goslings to me as well and allowed me to feed and pet them.

One day, one of the goslings was badly injured and they brought it to me and left it on the steps of my house. I believe that they knew I would care for it.

They did not however become friendly to anyone else and the male would "play dead" on the top of the pond by putting his neck and head on top of the water. Neighbors would stop by to tell me 'He was dead and floating on the pond" but as soon as they left he would swim to me.

Geese take a mate for life and will stay with the goslings for many years until they have their own families. They are extremely protective and loyal parents. They also have a pair of ducks that live with them for protection. I know how bizarre this sounds...but thought you might find the training part interesting.

Here's the answer to your problem:

Once I had trained the mating pair, the male would not allow any other geese on the property. As it turned out, that was actually the best way to not have flocks of them at our home. So, in your case, you can hire a a dog trained specifically to chase geese from the property; probably a Border Collie or Herding Dog. Eventually they will find somehwere else to go but the ones that are nesting or with goslings will not leave easily.
Thanks for your time.
Jenna Robbins
Murphdog & Company"

It is amazing that an ordinary citizen (through simple observances of and interactions with geese) understands what all the so-called "experts" and public officials cannot.

Yes, an established pair of nesting geese will often chase other geese out as in the end, nature is all about hierarchy, balance and order.

And nature is also about some animal species learning to compensate for human predations (though unfortunately, not all).   

Any community (like Mamaroneck) that signs on to USDA WS slaughters of geese (or other animals) is not only partner to barbarity and massacre, but also incompetence and waste of tax money.

The geese, like coyotes, will find a way even if it means leaving with people like Ms. Robbins for safekeeping, their threatened goslings.  -- PCA



Monday, March 11, 2013

"Kathie Lee and Hoda" -- Wasteland for the Human Brain

Migratory Canada goose. Target of Kathie Lee Gifford wrath and paranoia.
If this past weekend's Saturday Night Live (and specifically, Justin Timberlake) represented a pioneering high in entertainment, this morning's "Kathie Lee and Hoda" represented shallow and archaic low.

For at least five minutes, Kathie Lee Gifford went on a bewildering rant against migrating "Canadian geese" who apparently landed and briefly fueled up on her property over the weekend.

"Something needs to be done about these birds...other than  shooting!" decried the distressed Kathie Lee who apparently never saw a migrating bird before.

If the personal tirade was meant to be funny, it wasn't. The fact Kathie Lee couldn't get the name correctly of what she was railing against seemed pathetic.

It is just one more example of the "talking heads" of national media not bothering to research anything of what they spout of.  

As noted in this journal over the past few weeks, Canada geese (along with millions of other migrating birds) are in transition now.  As all trees do not bloom at the same time, nor do all birds migrate at the exact same time. Migrations occur over some weeks and it is during these times that migrating birds will briefly stop in fields or grassy locations to rest and fuel up for a long journey ahead (as Canada geese did recently in Central Park).

We should not be wiping out or endlessly harassing migrating wildlife for the sake of some rich celebrity's posh lawn or personal gripe.  One supposes Ms. Gifford can easily hire some undocumented workers to clean up her lawn or maybe get her ex-football star husband to move his butt and partially earn his keep.

But, if Kathie Lee's irrational (alcohol-induced?) rant against "Canadian geese" was not enough to turn one off on this TV dribble, it was followed by both KLG and her co-host Hoda Kobe "flinging" a dead fish around the set.

This while millions of people around the world face starvation.

There is a marked difference between "crass" and class.

One wonders what kind of example shows like this portray to our mass culture?

That it is acceptable to drink on the job?  (Both Kathie Lee and Hoda routinely consume alcohol on the program.)

That it is OK to use a nationally syndicated show to spread misinformation and air personal paranoia?

That it is "cute" to desecrate what was once a living animal and considered food to many people for the sake of so-called, "fun?"

I have never been a fan of Kathie Lee Gifford as she comes off as vapid and at times, phony. Nor do I watch this show.  (A friend called me about the program this morning.)

But, it seems past time that we should be demanding better from the producers of mass media television less it really be true that television represents little more than a "vast wasteland" for the human brain. -- PCA

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Justin Timberlake: "We Found Love in a Meatless Place"

Four domestic ("food") ducks finding love in a meatless place. 
Oh man, gotta love this guy!

Justin Timberlake has always been a phenomenal  talent, but I had no idea about this (From Saturday Night Live last night):

"We found love in a meatless place." 

Ah, it would be so lovely to imagine a world without slaughterhouses, shot guns, steel traps and animal gas chambers, wouldn't it?

And though the above video represents humorous skit, its message is powerful and growing.

When I became vegetarian more than 30 years ago, it was considered a freakish, anti-establishment thing.  There were very few alternatives to meat and if one went to a restaurant, one's choices were limited to salads or side orders of veggies.

But, things are rapidly changing.

From Oprah promoting "Meatless Mondays" to President Bill Clinton extolling the benefits of a vegan diet to a famous heart surgeon (Dr. Oz) promoting the same to now one of the biggest rock stars in the world proclaiming, "If you knew how meat was produced, you wouldn't eat it" on national TV, we have indeed "come a long way, baby."

What is responsible for this awakening of consciousness on the part of so many people -- including famous celebrities and even world figures like Bill Clinton and Bill Gates?

There is no doubt that science, social media, medicine, health and environmental factors have propelled millions to alter their dietary habits.

But, millions of others (like myself) have been compelled to change because of our concerns over animal suffering and beliefs in justice for all.

Unfortunately, mass media, food producers and politicians have been agonizingly slow to catch on to these dramatic and sweeping changes (as they have been agonizingly slow to realize and acknowledge how most decent people feel about the wildlife in their parks). 

That is what in fact, makes the Saturday Night Live skit so significant.

I personally never believed I would see something like that on national TV and on such a popular show.

"We found love in a meatless place." 

Ah, if only......

Thanks, JT for this.

There is still hope for humanity, the world and the geese.

For it will truly be a world of love and justice the day "meat" becomes obsolete in the dictionary. -   PCA


Saturday, March 9, 2013

Late Stragglers and Admirers of Geese

"Late stragglers" of migratory Canada geese pecking through snow last night at North Meadow in Central Park.
Canada goose and mallard hen at snowy Harlem Meer last night.
Every now and then a journalist actually researches the subject s/he writes about as remarkably demonstrated below:

Sadly, when the subject has been Canada geese, few reporters and journalists have shown themselves willing to curiously investigate as much as they have been willing to spout propaganda.

That is why most people when asked about Canada geese know precious little about them other than that they "poop" and the plane that landed in the Hudson in 2009 (flight 1549) collided with Canada geese.

But, that is basically to know nothing at all about these birds who majestically migrate through our skies every year and are often seen swimming or grazing around area parks and lakes.

Fortunately, not everyone buys into the hype (and lies) against Canada geese.

Last night, I had the very pleasant experience of encountering someone in Central Park who was, in some ways more observant about geese than even I.

But, more about that later......

Winter apparently gave a last gasp by dropping four inches of snow on New York City in the past couple of days.

The early buds of spring were ironically surrounded by snow last night in Central Park, though their survival can be surmised as temperatures quickly warmed and rebounded today.  Nature is presumably used to and adaptable to such temporary weather shocks.

The icy slush around the Reservoir made the running path unsuitable for any kind of human activity last night and thus all was quiet.

In fact, it was unusually quiet and still around the Central Park Reservoir, as it appeared all the migratory geese recently left the safe wintering or temporary resting spot to return to nesting locations far further north.

But, not all of the geese actually left Central Park.

Apparently, we have some late migratory stragglers.

Imagine my surprise to see about 40 geese casually pecking through the snow on the North Meadow last night!

For whatever reason, these particular geese elected not to leave with all the others, almost all of whom left Central Park over the past week or so.

Perhaps the 40 geese decided to wait out the recent storm? I wondered. Or, perhaps they were newly arrived from the south and taking a brief rest stop before moving on?

I had no way of knowing the answer and so I took out my camera to take a couple of photos of the mysterious geese grazing at least 50 yards away.

Just then I noticed a middle-aged man with a small dog standing by the fence surrounded the North Meadow and staring (like myself) at the geese in the distance.

When finished taking photos and walking past the man, he smiled in my direction and said, "They're beautiful, aren't they? The geese, I mean."

"Oh yes, they are," I concurred.  "I think they are migratory and will probably be leaving soon with the others.  There were almost 200 geese here last week."

"I know these guys," the dark haired man who appeared to be either of Spanish or Native American descent said proudly. "You hear that honking?  That is their leader. They will take off in a couple of minutes, but they don't go far."

Just then, one gaggle of about ten geese did take flight from the grass and headed off south in the direction of the Reservoir.

I wondered if the two humans staring at them made them a bit nervous as migratory geese are generally more wary of humans than resident geese.

"They come here in the evenings, graze a little and then fly back to the Reservoir where they feel safe," the man told me.  "I love to watch them."

"Yes, well we are lucky to have the geese in Central Park," I replied.  "Thousands of geese have been rounded up and killed in other parks throughout New York City, but fortunately, not here."

"Yes, I know about that," the man answered despondently.  "Its horrible that we cannot learn to live with and respect nature. There is no balance in that. All animals have their place and are important to the ecology.  One day the imbalance will come back to haunt us, but, I hope I won't be around for that."

I nodded in total agreement. "Guess that is why we have to appreciate the geese while we still have them."

Both of us smiled and bade a good night.  "Nice meeting you."

I then continued to walk to Harlem Meer, immensely pleased that I had met someone who appreciated the geese as much as I did and perhaps knew them even better than I.

Arriving to a snow covered Harlem Meer, I was further pleased to note all my favorite ducks had survived still another storm and that the 20 or so, "late straggler" migratory geese were still there. 

But, in a couple of weeks, even these late straggler geese
will be gone.

That will be a kind of sad day for me.

But, I won't be the only one.

Its good to see the occasional article that truthfully depicts geese and its even better to meet in person, other people who deeply appreciate nature and the geese's essential part in it.

I wonder if the geese realize all of their admirers and defenders?

That only the politicians and the rest of the media did. -- PCA