Monday, June 17, 2013

Father's Day -- of Geese and Humans

Gander checks water and protects mate sitting on egg at Central Park Reservoir.
"Rocky Raccoon" given warnings from geese to stay away.
The gander and the raccoon.
The last egg at CP trying to make it.....
Mama goose carefully attending to egg and nest.
 Father's Day was yesterday.

But, it is not a day I normally celebrate.

My parents split when I was two and I only saw my dad twice after that.  Once at age 12 and again at 28.

To say my dad was aloof and disengaged would be the understatement of the ages.

Perhaps this is part of the reason I so admire Canada geese.

Ganders are anything but "disengaged" from their mates and offspring.

On the contrary, from the moment the female goose sits on a nest, the gander's life is entirely devoted to the protection of that nest, its eggs and his mate.

As previously mentioned, the eggs of nesting goose pairs at Central Park this year were apparently oiled and to this point, none have hatched.  This suspicion was confirmed over the past week by two wildlife observers who reported seeing a man from Geese Police use a kayak to get to one goose nest at Turtle Pond in May.  

Although geese will flap wings, hiss and attempt to chase away when their eggs are threatened, such actions are completely impotent and futile to ward off humans.

But, geese are not always easily deterred -- even when eggs fail to hatch or nests are destroyed.  

Some geese attempt to nest again as this news piece describes:

Apparently, one pair of determined geese whose earlier attempt failed have nested again at Central Park. 

Granted, the nesting occurs very late in the season for geese (late May) and granted, there is only one egg in the nest. (Usually, geese lay three to six eggs.)

But, the two geese are making a valiant attempt and once again, the gander has completely devoted himself to the protection of his mate and potential (one) offspring by keeping constant patrol and vigilance on the water for what is now nearly a month.

Yesterday, there was a lovely family, comprised of Dad, Mom and two children (about age 8 to 12 years) who were fascinated by the nesting goose and her one egg. 

"You see over there?" I asked pointing to the gander further away in the water.  "That is the goose's mate and it is his job to patrol the water and keep special eye out for the raccoons.   Raccoons can sometimes steal eggs, so geese have to be wary of them."

"Really?" the people asked.  "Where are the raccoons?"

"I think there is only one raccoon here.  He usually comes out around dusk, so it is a little early yet.   However, the gander already has his eye out for the raccoon and that is why he is patrolling so close along the rocks.  If the raccoon comes too close to the nest, the gander will join his mate and both geese will stand up, flap wings and hiss at the raccoon and he will move away."

The young girl and boy began to look along the rocks of the Reservoir for the raccoon, but he had not yet appeared.

"Do you know when the egg will hatch?" the father asked.

"I am not exactly sure when the goose nested, but she has been sitting on the egg at least since the end of May." I replied.   I am guessing some time within the next ten days or so."

I did not tell the family about the suspected egg oiling (i.e. egg destruction) or USDA goose roundups soon to occur in NYC parks as I did not want to upset them -- especially the children and especially on a family oriented holiday.

I could only secretly hope that this one last egg from one remaining goose couple would be allowed to hatch in Central Park as there is at least one human family now eagerly awaiting the new birth (as are obviously the goose pair).

How sad for children to so anticipate something only to see the unviable eggs disintegrate on the rocks and the parent geese openly grieve as earlier occurred at the Reservoir in late May.

As of yesterday, the one goose egg appeared to be still viable, but one can only guess at what will be the case a week from now.

Will there be a proud mother goose showing off her new gosling to the thousands of visitors and children of Central Park?

Will there be a vigilant new father goose relentlessly guarding and protecting his mate and new baby from any raccoons, hawks or other threats?

Or, will it be instead another sad scene of bereaved and confused parents over a tattered, unviable egg?

I am hoping there will be reason to celebrate Father's Day next week.

But, I fear instead, it will be like Fathers Days of years -- and recent weeks past.

Disengagement.  -- PCA


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