That is the seeming dilemma facing Cago these days at Harlem Meer (Central Park).
The solitary Canada goose who escaped to the Meer around the time USDA WS goose capture and slaughters began in New York City, has, for the past six weeks, been aligning himself with the ducks -- especially the four domestics who have made their home (since early spring), the fenced in, protected area near the Dana Center.
But, now it appears that Cago has a choice to make.
Some days ago, 7 geese who had molted at the Reservoir, suddenly took flight and landed at Harlem Meer.
When the newly arrived geese temporarily joined the ducks and Cago in grazing some of the grass by the Dana Center, Cago kept respectable distance and the newcomers did not harass him. In fact, it seemed they took little notice of Cago.
I thought at the time it was possible Cago might attempt to join the new flock, but usually such alliances take time.
Last night when I returned to the Meer, Cago was again in his familiar spot with the four domestics and a bunch of other mallards. But, the new geese were not with them.
Perhaps because there was so much human and dog activity at the Meer last night (it was very warm), the 7 geese from the Reservoir, took to staying in the middle of the lake where they apparently felt safer.
But, Cago stood at the edge of the embankment and looked longingly over the water where the other geese were. It seemed he was carefully contemplating the decision that was before him.
Should he stay or should he go?
For sure, Cago has formed peaceful and mutually beneficial alliance with the ducks over these past six weeks. And Cago has also found some sense of safety, now having become somewhat used to all the activities at the Meer.
But, he is not with his own kind.
On the other hand, if Cago decides to leave the ducks and try for acceptance into the new goose flock (or family), it could take weeks or even months before he is finally and fully accepted.
In the meantime, he would have to endure low status in the group and more or less stay respectfully around perimeters or towards back of the gaggle. That would mean last goose to eat and first to be picked on.
Not exactly a dignified position for a goose who less than two months ago, had his own mate or flock to fly with (Presumably killed by USDA).
Poor Cago has had to go through a grief and loss period over past six weeks, as well as the molt (flightless period) AND adapt to a totally new way of surviving -- with a bunch of ducks!
But, now having endured all that stress and survived, does Cago now want to endure the added stress of trying to make it into a new flock of geese?
Last night, he was at the edge of the water as if carefully considering and weighing the pros and cons of both choices.
I had the feeling that Cago really wanted to "go" with the new goose flock, but something, for the moment, was holding him back.
Cago stayed watching the water, even when I tossed a couple of handfuls of cracked corn to the ducks.
But, then, after a few minutes, Cago turned and also partook of a few kernels.
Like Scarlet O'Hara, Cago seemed to finally decide, "I will think about this tomorrow."
My guess is, that if the new geese stay a while, Cago will eventually try to join them.
He is, after all, a goose. -- PCA