Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Despite Destructive Actions, Resident Geese Prevail in Central Park


Determined. Despite already losing a number of eggs, Lady continues to (apparently) lay new ones and nest long past original due date at Boat Lake.
A good sign. Day-old hatchlings staying close to parents and swimming in line at Reservoir.
Hope for the future of resident Central Park geese.
Precious little ones already learning and facing an intimidating world.
I am guardedly optimistic about the four newly hatched goslings from the Central Park Reservoir. Not only do they appear to be outwardly healthy, but perhaps just as importantly, their behavior seems in line with what is normally observed in goose hatchlings (i.e. staying very close to and focused on parents and swimming in line with them).
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Sadly, in recalling the three doomed goslings of last year from the same parents, there were concerns about their behavior from the get-go. At first, I attributed the wanderings and seeming lack of focus of the hatchlings to youth and inexperience of the parents. But, when later comparing them to the two healthy goslings hatched later at the Boat Lake, it became obvious that something was wrong from a biological and physical standpoint with the Reservoir babies. Though hatched nearly a month later, the Boat Lake goslings were almost double the size of their Reservoir counterparts and had already developed adult coloring while the lone survivor at the Reservoir was still small and yellowish. A few days after discovering these marked differences, "Remy" the last Reservoir gosling mysteriously vanished never to be seen again. It simply wasn't meant to be that this sad little clutch was to survive.
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Whether the unfortunate demise of the 2014 Reservoir goslings was due to a failed egg addling action or exposure of the mother to damaging pesticides or other chemicals before nesting will never be known for sure.  However, being aware of the "Get the Flock Out" programs and policies of the Conservancy and the general hostility towards geese by the city of New York, it's easy to conclude the deaths of the 2014 goslings were deliberately caused by direct human actions such as egg oiling.
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For their part, though the parents, Hansel and Greta remained dutiful and attentive to their former offspring, I believe in retrospect, that they knew something was wrong from the beginning. They never showed quite the same diligence, discipline and protectiveness towards the little ones of 2014 that they are showing now towards the new clutch. Though they never abandoned their parental duties, it seemed Hansel and Greta were already resigned to the unfortunate fates of their young of last year.
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Of course, in that department -- unfortunate fates of their young -- Hansel and Greta are no different from virtually all the other resident geese of Central Park.
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Speaking of which...
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Although nesting at the Boat Lake nearly two weeks earlier than Greta at the Reservoir, "Lady" is still sitting on her nest almost six weeks later. Either she is inexplicably sitting on oiled, unviable eggs or having already lost a number of eggs, Lady simply laid new ones. If the latter case, she is following the same pattern as last year when after losing 8 eggs, Lady finally and successfully hatched two healthy goslings in late June.
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Another wildlife observer recently reported that Lady's nest and eggs were destroyed last week and the beleaguered goose laid three new eggs a few days later. It's not possible to verify this report, but it seems a more likely explanation than Lady continuing to lay on dead eggs. From past observations, geese are usually keenly aware when their eggs are not viable and shortly abandon them when failing to hatch. (Apparently babies peep and communicate with their moms from inside the eggs shortly before hatching.)
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Adding to the woes of geese and other waterbirds in Central Park is the continuing patrols and harassment of ("Get the Flock Out!") Geese Police.
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Another friend, Liliana reported the following this morning:
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"I was observing five mallards at the Boat Lake when suddenly, the mallards became very fearful and fled.  I looked around, wondering what could have so spooked them and then noticed the Geese Police van patrolling on a pedestrian path close to the water. Apparently, the very sight of the van terrorizes the ducks!"
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Liliana was quite distressed about her observation. -- Especially as the only birds visible on the entire lake this morning were the five mallards, four domestic (flightless) ducks and Lady and her mate, Man.
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"All this for two pitiful geese and a hand full of ducks?" Liliana complained. "Why don't they use the money to go after the real criminals in the park?  The geese and ducks don't rob, assault and try to kidnap children!"  (All crimes that recently occurred in Central Park.)
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I had no words of solace for Liliana as waterbird harassing activities have been going on so long in Central Park and have been detailed throughout this blog to the point of boredom and redundancy.
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Of course we write letters and have complained about such unnecessary harassment and destruction -- destruction that appears hell bent on eradicating every last resident duck or goose in Central Park. (Sadly, our letters repeatedly fall on deaf ears.)
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But, fortunately, Hansel and Greta have a few things to say about all this -- four things specifically.
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And despite the endlessly destructive actions, assuming some or all of these precious little babies survive (and early signs look good) Central Park will not succeed in totally eliminating its resident population of geese.
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Geese always return to the places of their births -- the very behavior that creates "resident geese."  --- PCA
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4 comments:

fojap said...

I've been taking photos of the goose you seem to call Lady for about a month now. Today I went and she was not there and there were no eggs that I could see. The nest appeared to have had dirt or something laid over it.

I was wondering if you knew what happened. Did the eggs hatch or were they destroyed? The last photo I have was taken on the third of June and she had three eggs.

PCA said...

To Fojap: Yes, you are correct that Lady's nest and eggs have once again been destroyed -- though it is not clear who exactly is doing this. Geese Police regularly harasses geese at the Boat Lake, including today (despite only 4 geese being there). But they are loathe to admit tampering with or destroying eggs now as they admitted to doing in the past. One thing that is certain and that is that Central Park Conservancy has apparently embarked on a "zero tolerance" policy for any geese in CP, including migratory. The only reasonably safe place for geese in CP is the Reservoir as Geese Police has no access there and it is run by the DEC, not Conservancy.

fojap said...

Well, that is really a shame. I'd been watching the two of them for about a month now. I saw them preparing the nest and the next day I came back and there were eggs. That was the fourth of May, so I was expecting to see goslings around the first of June.

I've only just moved back to New York after about four or five years in Baltimore. I knew there had been a policy of reducing the geese population, but I didn't it had gone that far. Yesterday, I walked around the entire lake and I couldn't help thinking what a strange lack of birds there have been this year.

I've always been ambivalent about the Central Park Conservancy. I'm old enough to remember when Central Park felt dangerous, so I'm not oblivious to the positive things they've accomplished. At the same time, they behave in such an unaccountable fashion. I think there needs to be a public discussion about what is an appropriate level of geese policing. I don't want a park with no animals and I am probably not alone. There are fewer duck, too.

PCA said...

Dear Fojap: You are obviously very knowledgeable, intelligent and articulate. Please call the Central Park Conservancy and say to them what you have written here. Request to speak with or leave message with someone in athority. These things are occurring because not enough people are willing to speak up. The number for Conservancy is (212 310-6669. Thank you.