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


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