Monday, February 15, 2016

Coldest Valentine's Day on Record for Separated Goose Pair


Warrior (front) and Princess last October when returning to Boat Lake with their four goslings.
The "melee" now at the Reservoir where wintering geese gather and still find open water.
Could Princess and the babies be among these?
Somewhere in the crowd is a mom and babies missing Daddy.
It seems ironic that the morning temperature in New York City yesterday was less than zero. It broke the record for the coldest Valentine Day's ever in the city.
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I can think of one lonely gander who was likely feeling the unusual chill of this Valentine's Day and one suddenly single goose mother feeling the confusion of seeming abandonment. 
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But, more about Warrior and his sweetheart later.....
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For me, the "Arctic Blast" was OK. I was mainly concerned about the geese and ducks of Central Park making it through the big chill.
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So far, they thankfully are.
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As described in the article below, as long as birds (and other outdoor animals) have access to food and open water, they are capable of surviving otherwise brutal temperatures and storms. https://www.audubon.org/news/gimme-shelter-how-do-birds-survive-snow-storm
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The reason so many water birds perished last year was not due to one particularly bad snow storm or a short bout of unusually cold days, but rather a steady stream of frigid days that meant snow on the ground failed to melt and frozen watercourses remained iced over for many weeks. With no access to food, thousands of ducks, geese and other water birds starved to death along the east coast, including more than a dozen at the Central Park Reservoir.
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Such is not the case this year. Though we had a near record snow storm of nearly 27 inches last month, a warm-up in temperatures shortly thereafter caused the snow to quickly melt. Likewise, temperatures are predicted to quickly rebound this week to normal and even above normal.
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Thus far this winter, the water at the Central Park Reservoir has remained open and moving (though park lakes and ponds are currently iced over).
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This explains why virtually all the migratory (and local) geese and ducks have taken temporary winter residence at the Reservoir. (That, in addition to goose harassment occurring everywhere else in Central Park.)
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Though obviously hungry and feeling the bitter pinch of winter, all the geese and ducks (to my knowledge) have so far and thankfully survived.
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One goose who, however, would likely not have survived this weekend due to an already compromised state, was Warrior.  
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Fortunately (as described a couple of days ago), Warrior was rescued and is currently being treated for various skin infections and general debilitation at the Wild Bird Fund.  
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My friend, Liliana, dropped in to see Warrior yesterday.
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Standing in his cage and wearing protective covering to prevent scratching of wounds, Warrior looked at Liliana curiously (and according to her, with some confusion). Sadly, we cannot explain to Warrior why he is at the Wild Bird Fund nor why he has to put up with annoying treatments or preventions.
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Because it was Sunday, the hospital was not at full staff and Liliana was not able to obtain much information nor spend much time with Warrior.
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But, I'm guessing it was comforting to the recovering gander to see his trusted friend, Liliana again -- if only for a few minutes.
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What has presumably got to be very tough for Warrior and his now estranged mate and four grown goslings is not being with each other.  
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Of course that was the case a few days ago when Warrior was apparently incapable to fly the short distance with his family from the Boat Lake to the Reservoir. Such was in fact, the main signal that rescue was required for him.
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Goose families do not willingly separate in winter unless there is something seriously wrong with one or more of the geese. Moreover, once mated, goose pairs do not separate at all until death of one of the partners. (Generally, goslings are "kicked out from the nest" at about a year-old or until the parents again want to nest.)
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Presumably, Warrior's mate and youngsters are still at the Reservoir, though it would be impossible to recognize them amongst the roughly 200 geese currently there. Warrior was in fact, spotted at the Reservoir a couple of weeks ago with the family, though they returned to the Boat Lake a couple of days later where they stayed until the day of rescue.
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There is also another goose family of seven that was typically hanging with Warrior's clan. Hopefully, the two families are still together even in Warrior's absence.
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So, it was the coldest Valentine's Day on record in New York City.
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And though it is chilly, lonely and confusing for two geese who, long partnered, are now separated, hopefully (like the weather), there are warmer days ahead.
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When finally time for Warrior's release, it is anticipated that his Princess and their goslings will be patiently waiting at a then unfrozen Boat Lake.
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Loyalty runs deep in the goose world.  -- PCA
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