Monday, December 4, 2017

Night Flyers -- Signs of Winter and Changing Flying Patterns of the Geese

Canada geese and Northern Shovelers resting together.
The first of NYC wintering geese and ducks have arrived to Central Park.
Just a trickle of many more to come.
Geese and mallards. 
When arriving to the Central Park Reservoir shortly after sunset last night, I noted many new mallards resting along the base of the rocks.

"Oh, there must be geese here tonight!" I thought.

Though mallards and geese don't normally fly together, they do tend to flock in the same areas and follow similar migration patterns.

Sure enough, as I walked a little further north, I suddenly heard excited honking as a bunch of geese were preparing for take-off from the Reservoir.

One by one, different gaggles took off, most composed from eight to twenty-five geese. Like so many skeins before them, they left via the invisible flyway in the sky that leads them east towards the direction of Queens. (Were they to fly south in Manhattan, they would be on potential collision course with Manhattan skyscrapers.)

Unlike skeins of migratory geese leaving the Reservoir throughout October and early parts of November shortly after dawn, these geese were instead, choosing to take flight at night.  This is a pattern I have noted over the past several years: Early predecessors tend to take-off and do most of their flying during daylight hours, whereas the later migrating geese seem to show preference for night flying.

Could this change have something to do with expanded hunting seasons that often start in many areas during November?  Could it be that night flying is safer for later migrating geese?

Since I can't ask the geese the obvious question of why they change flying patterns according to the calendar, I am left only to note the behavior change and the fact it is something repeated in observations over the course of years, not just days.

Another difference noted over the years is that the spring goose migration periods appear much shorter in the spring than the fall (usually lasting only from March through early April). One suspects that is due to the geese wanting to return early to nesting locations in order to choose the best spots.

But during the fall, goose migrations begin as early as September and continue well into December when at last, the geese (and ducks) who typically winter at the Central Park Reservoir finally arrive.

To that point, some of the migratory geese and ducks who choose the Reservoir as their January and February wintering locations, have already arrived, but there are many more to come. What we see now are just the first trickles.

I suspect that the early migrating geese we typically see in September and early October are likely from very far north regions, such as the Sub-Arctic and northern Canada whereas the geese flying in now might be from northern states such as Maine, Vermont or even upstate New York. Since they don't have to fly so far, they leave later. But that too, is speculation.  The fact is, there is not a whole lot of information on migratory goose flying patterns and the actual reasons for wide variations.

I stayed at the Reservoir for nearly an hour last night watching nearly all of the geese using the Reservoir as a temporary rest stop, take-off. Without exception, there was much honking and organization before actual take-off and it was interesting to note geese still in the water honking at their colleagues taking off and flying over them as if bidding them a fond Bon Voyage or promising to meet them at some designated spot.  

I regretted not being able to photograph the geese flying above me as it was dark and the geese were moving too fast. (Any attempted photos would have been blurred.)  Such a shame as at least one flock of about 25 geese had immediately formed the perfect "V" formation that Canada geese are so famous for.

It was finally interesting to note that though the geese and mallards seemingly arrived at the Reservoir yesterday around the same times, the mallards did not depart with their feathered friends. 

When finally leaving the Reservoir, I noted the mallards still quietly roosting along the base of the rocks.

"Not to worry" I imagine them thinking. "We'll catch up to the geese later."

Maybe night flying is not just their thing. 

The mallards apparently like their beauty rest.  -- PCA


Sunday, October 22, 2017

Despite Unusually Warm October, Migratory Canada Geese on the Move

And, they're off!
Over Central Park and heading east towards Queens in order to avoid Manhattan skyscrapers.
The geese move at blistering pace making photography difficult.
Take-off from CP Reservoir.
Perfect "V" formation.
It's been a while since posting in this blog.

A painful and frustrating bout with Shingles, along with "frozen shoulder," (both) in my right and dominant arm (and hand) has rendered typing and other computer maneuvers difficult.

But that is not to say I haven't been to Central Park on regular basis to observe and photograph the geese.

First, to catch up on where this blog left off this past August:

As predicted, the two goose families who had raised their combined four goslings together at the CP Boat Lake did indeed depart just shortly before the fledglings turned 11-weeks-old (the magic number seemingly for new goose families to leave child-rearing locations). It's not clear where the two families went after departing the Boat Lake, but there have been a number of geese coming and going at Harlem Meer over the past several months and it's possible the families joined up with them. Or, like Hansel, Greta and their new offspring, it's possible the two families left Central Park entirely not to return again until next spring.

The CP Reservoir (and Boat Lake) have been relatively goose empty over the past two months except for the migratory Canada geese who are now passing through and briefly resting at the Reservoir before take-offs at sunrise in great numbers.

Despite an unusually warm October in NYC in which people are still walking around in T-shirts and shorts, Canada geese have kept exactly to their fall migration schedules without missing a cue.

I have often maintained that Canada geese have their own calendars and stick rigidly to them regardless of fluctuations in weather or other circumstances. This is true whether the time of year calls for mating, egg-laying, departing molting or gosling-rearing locations or migrations. When the sun is in certain place in the sky and the days long or short, the geese pick up and go. These are patterns set over millennia and little, if anything alters them.

This is not however, to say the geese aren't adaptable.

Canada geese are extremely reactive and adaptable to danger and safety issues in their environments.  One of the prime reasons for many geese electing to stay mostly in city and suburban environments (even in winters when natural food is scarce) is safety from hunters. Safety is apparently more important to them than even food availability.

Canada geese can in fact, survive weeks on little food due to them eating heartily and building up fat reserves during fair weather. But if a bullet gets them or a treasured family member, their lives are effectively over.

This may explain why so many geese actually and ultimately winter in places like New York City and Chicago. Yes, the going can be tough in winter, but most geese (and ducks) are actually able to survive.

The geese who ultimately winter in New York City have not arrived yet. They are usually the last geese to migrate (probably because they don't fly that far) and don't typically arrive to NYC until December.

But for now, thousands of migrating Canada geese are passing through NYC and where they ultimately fly to and end up, I cannot say.

I just know there is an invisible and well-traveled "highway in the sky" through which virtually all the geese move. They do so eagerly and with great enthusiasm. It's amazing to think that many of them are only five-months-old -- literally babies on the move!

Every morning, within an hour of the sun's rising, the geese take off from the Reservoir in skeins of seven to twenty-five and head east over the shorter buildings of Queens. (They know enough to avoid the Manhattan skyscrapers were they to head directly south.)

As casual observer to the wonders above me, I can only rejoice along with the honking geese and wish them God's speed and protection.

'Till we hopefully meet again next spring.  -- PCA


Monday, August 14, 2017

Merging of the Guards -- But Will the Two Goose Families Stay Together Come Fall and Winter?

With Buster leading the way, the two families emerge on land at the Central Park Boat Lake.
Buster checks and then gives OK for others to follow.
Bonnie, Buster's mate.
Buster, giving me the once-over.
Note Buster's "souvenirs of past battles" on chest.
Aaron and one of the babies.
Buster (left) keeping careful eye on everyone as goslings eat.
The two goose families (who merged into one) at the Central Park Boat Lake are doing well. If all goes according to Canada goose schedule, the four goslings will turn 11-weeks-old later this month and will be ready to fly. It is likely then that the families will leave the Boat Lake. The parents will be eager to get in the air again and it is incumbent upon them to familiarize their young with different terrains, as well as continue the goslings' flying lessons and build their endurance.

Over these past couple of months, I have taken particular interest in Buster and Bonnie, the parents of the solitary gosling.  It's not known why they only had one baby, but from the beginning, they stuck close to the goose parents (Angie and Aaron) with three goslings.

Eventually, the two families merged into one with Buster appearing to take on the lead, "alpha" role for all eight and Aaron, the secondary, beta role. (Buster appears as a "tough gander" with missing feathers in the front of his chest; obvious souvenirs of past battles.)

It's a little unusual for goose families to merge with other families, but it is not unique -- especially if parents only have one gosling. Merging with another family offers the lone gosling opportunity to grow up with siblings -- a must for Canada geese. Additionally, there is strength in numbers, especially when the parent geese have to defend against predators to protect their young.

Following is a YouTube video of two goose families defending their young against a predatory fox. Obviously, two ganders can better defend than one alone and four parents together form a formidable foe to the fox. It is particularly interesting that one family only has one gosling and the other parents, three (as in the Boat Lake families):

Canada geese are among the most adaptable animals on the planet. Among the reasons geese take up residence in heavily trafficked city parks is avoidance of both, human hunters and predators such as foxes, coyotes and some raptors. Sadly, many people complain about geese in urban parks and golf courses and such has resulted in a virtual "war on geese" in many locations around the country. 

Perhaps if geese were not so relentlessly hunted in their more natural settings, they would prefer them over having to deal with the noise, crowds, cars and dogs of the big cities. 

But it appears that in weighing out all the dangers of urban vs rural locations, geese have concluded that urban is overall better for them and their offspring. They are far from dumb and, on the contrary, are among the smartest (and bravest) of animals on the planet. These are among the reasons for Canada geese high survival rates. -- These and their organizational skills and devotion to mates and offspring.   

Over these past few weeks, virtually all the geese who went through the molt at Central Park (as well as the Reservoir goose family), departed as soon as they regained flight. It is now only a couple of weeks before Buster, Bonnie, Angie and Aaron will likely depart with their grown goslings.

But, will they stay together throughout the fall and winter as this "merging of convenience" helped all to survive the summer in Central Park?  

Hm, none, including Buster, are telling. And I ain't placing any bets. -- PCA


Monday, August 7, 2017

Flying Lessons -- Hansel, Greta and Their Goslings Bid a Fond Farewell

They were so fast, rising and disappearing over the quickly darkening skies.And though they appreciated my support over the summer, it was time for Hansel, Greta and their youngsters to move on and out of Central Park.
But, Jody and his pals remain at Harlem Meer.
"Goodbye, geese."
I thought I had seen the last of Hansel, Greta and their three goslings when they left the Central Park Reservoir last week (right on schedule). Usually, the pattern is that I don't see the family again until the following spring.

But, a few days later, I decided to go north to Harlem Meer in order to gage the water bird situation there, as well as check up on "Jody," the domestic, Indian Runner Duck who is now on this second year at the Meer. 

When first arriving to the Meer, I noticed that nearly all of the 20 or so geese who had been there the week before had left. But there were two geese resting in the grass at the north side of the lake and there was a gaggle of five geese in the water.

As the sun was in the process of setting and much of the park was in shadow, the five geese on the far side of the water were hard to photograph. I noticed that they appeared to be in deliberate, straight line formation with two larger geese holding the front and back positions and three smaller geese in the middle.

It immediately occurred to me that they were likely, Hansel, Greta and their three youngsters!

Though making motions with my arm, the five geese failed to see me -- or they were not interested in coming to me for treats.  Hm, maybe they were not the family, after all?  I pondered.

I continued my walk and eventually found Jody and some duck friends towards the western part of the lake. Unlike the geese, they immediately came to me for treats.

Then, suddenly there was excited honking and the five geese previously seen came flying through the air and landed gracefully on the water about 50 yards away.

"Oh, it must be the goose family!" I thought. "And surely they know I'm here and will come close for treats. I can get photos then!"

But, the geese did not swim towards me for treats. They appeared focused on more pressing matters. Once again, they formed a straight line with the smaller geese in the middle and swam back to the far side of the lake.

When finished filling the bellies of Jody and his mallard pals, I retraced steps back towards the middle and eastern parts of the lake to look again for the gaggle of five geese.

But they had seemingly disappeared!

Stymied on where they had gone, I continued to search, when suddenly, the excited honking arose once again from a short distance away.

I looked up and boom, there they were flying directly above me!

It seemed as if my heart briefly stopped as I stared up in wonder at the beautiful sight passing and rising above me -- but it was fast disappearing.

The skein of five geese quickly ascended in the air, gaining height and speed as they rose and sailed over lake and trees, eventually to exit Harlem Meer and Central Park from the north west side, honking all the while.  

It was the first time I had ever witnessed Hansel and Greta giving their kids flying lessons, much less, leaving the park with them. There was no longer any doubt in my mind that it was indeed them.  It was as though they had flown directly over my head in order to acknowledge my presence and bid a fond farewell!

Harlem Meer is the most northern point in Central Park, opening up to streets and new adventures north of Manhattan.

Apparently, Hansel and Greta had used Harlem Meer as a kind of "training base" for a few days to teach their goslings the finer points of take-offs and landings, as well as prepare them for longer, more taxing flight.

I did return to the Meer earlier the following day on the off chance that the family might have returned, giving me opportunity for photos. But, in my heart, I knew they would not be there.

They had finally bid me their fond farewell -- until next year. -- PCA  


Saturday, August 5, 2017

Temporary Role Reversals in Canada Geese and the Magical, "11-Weeks" Number

Two of the four Boat Lake goslings. Friendly little chaps.
Last photo of the Reservoir family just prior to them departing on the predicted August 2nd date.
Boat Lake goslings as one of the dads hovers in background.
Boat Lake goose families as one of the mothers is relegated to "sentry duty" on perimeter.

One doesn't need a calendar if a close observer of Canada geese.

When the Central Park Reservoir goslings hatched on May 8, I predicted to other park goers and goose admirers that they would be flying out of the Reservoir with their parents on the first or second day of August -- the precise time the goslings would turn 11-weeks-old.

Sure enough (as if the parents were themselves marking off a calendar), the family was long gone when I arrived to the Reservoir this past Wednesday on August 2nd.

As always, they did not bother to bid a fond, "Good-bye," or thank me for supporting them over the past 11 weeks. Nor did they tell me where they were going! (They like to keep such secrets close to the vest.)

The reason I knew the family would depart on week eleven, is because that is precisely what the parents have done for the past three years when raising healthy goslings. Eleven weeks also appears to be the magical number for other goose families observed over the years, though there has been one notable exception to that rule -- the Boat Lake geese. (More about them later.)

As in the past, I never witnessed the parents actually teaching their goslings to fly, nor did I see the goslings attempting to fly on their own.  However, in recent weeks I had noticed Hansel, the gander, hovering close to and spending far more personal time with the goslings (especially the one male) as his mate, Greta took on the more (usually male) vigilant role of chasing off other geese. (Greta was quite aggressive about it, too. Don't mess with Mother goose, as the saying goes!)

Apparently, as goslings grow, the male ganders ("Dads") have far greater input into their raising and training than initially thought. When small, it is the mother goose who is particularly close with her goslings, covering them with her wings and staying close to them at all times as her mate keeps vigilant watch, protects and wards off intruders. But as the goslings grow close to the age of flight, the parent geese appear to reverse roles, with Dad taking over training, flying lessons and discipline while Mom takes on duties of vigilance and protection.

This particular observation has not just been true for Hansel and Greta, but also the two Canada goose families currently at the Boat Lake in Central Park. Over the past couple of weeks, the two father ganders are usually seen close to and hovering over the goslings as the two moms skirt perimeters and keep watch for any possible threats. I have even seen one of the dads actually running off one of the mother geese as if to remind her of her "new duties."  

As previously noted, there are many "rules," regimens and protocols in the goose world and none are taken lightly. This, along with organization and family structure are the primary reasons Canada geese have such high survival rates.

As the four goslings (from two sets of parents) at the Boat Lake all hatched during the first couple of days in June, they are not due to turn eleven weeks until the last week of this month (August). 

However, I am not as confident in predicting the two families will take flight at that time as the parents of the two mothers (Man and Lady) tended to linger at the Boat Lake with their babies long after usual "departing" times.  I am speculating that because grass is plentiful at the Boat Lake and it is generally a safe environment for the geese, they could reasonably stay there until winter. Another reason for the uncertainty is because both female geese are "new mothers" with their first offspring, so there is no past history and timetable to go on. The two families may fly out later this month -- or they could linger until ice covers the lake in January. We shall see.

Meanwhile, all the geese who molted at the Reservoir this past June and July departed on schedule as soon as they grew in new flight feathers by mid July.  And Stumpy and Stanley also left Turtle Pond earlier this week. Geese are usually eager to take to the air once again as soon as they are able to.

It is now bittersweet going to the Reservoir and not seeing "my" goose family. They will likely not be seen again until next March when the family returns as a solid unit and a few weeks later, Dad runs the then-young adult goslings off to again nest with his mate.

All is ritual and baked into thousands of years of evolution.  

But, I would be greatly curious to learn when exactly the geese "figured out" that reversing sex roles during the goslings' early upbringing was the best way to ensure survival and assimilation of rules?

Did a daddy gander announce to his sweetheart one day, "Move over, honey. I'm taking over the raising and flying lessons for now!"

Nothing surprises about our marvelous and supremely intelligent and adaptable Canada geese!  -- PCA


Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Neither Arrows, Gunshot, Nor Missing Limbs Deter Canada Geese from Their True Loves

Stumpy hobbling on grass with her missing foot plainly visible.She has endured the condition for some years with her devoted mate by her side.
Stanley in protective mode as Stumpy peacefully nibbles on grass.
Though she usually lags behind on land and in water, Stanley waits
Stanley and Stumpy patiently dealing with pesky mallards over the summer molt at Turtle Pond. But they may soon leave as the ability to fly has once again returned.
Since May, I have been enamored of a particular love story between two geese I named Stanley and Stumpy staying at Turtle Pond in Central Park through the nesting and molting seasons.  

Stumpy is easily recognizable to regular park visitors over the years as she is completely missing her right foot. It's not known how Stumpy's foot was severed some years back, but guess is that the injury was either due to fishing line or a snapping turtle.

But Stumpy is not left to deal with her disability alone. Her long standing, protective and devoted mate, Stanley is always by her side or nearby.

True, Stumpy cannot keep up with Stanley either on the ground or in the water. (She hobbles on land and slightly bobbles or is tilted to one side in the water.) But it doesn't matter. He accepts and loves her as she is. Dumping Stumpy for a younger, prettier or healthier female goose is not an option for Stanley. If he has to wait for his lady to catch up to him, so be it. The two can be seen most nights, romantically lazing on the water together at Turtle Pond -- though that may not be true much longer. With the molting season now over, it's possible the two romantic partners might soon take to the skies once again. There is nothing wrong with Stumpy's ability to fly.

The two geese briefly attempted nesting this year. But, apparently the eggs were not viable and Stumpy was forced to abandon the effort. Considering her age and disability, I personally considered the outcome probably more of a blessing in disguise. The two love partners briefly mourned their losses for a few days and then carried on.

Another example of undying love and commitment despite adversity in Canada geese is this news article from Canada entitled, "Arrow Through Belly Doesn't Deter Father Goose from Tending to his Goslings."   The article describes and shows a gander who, despite an arrow though his chest and shotgun pellets in his body, still protected and tended to his mate and offspring. (Fortunately the gander has been rescued and the arrow removed; hopefully to soon return to his family.)

Perhaps now we know where the expression, "Tough Ol' Gander" comes from.

But truth is, that neither arrows, gunshot pellets, failed nestings or even missing limbs deter Canada geese from their true loves.

"Till Death Do Us Part" is not just expression or ideal for Canada geese. It is indeed, their way of life.  -- PCA


Friday, July 21, 2017

Duck, Duck, Goose! -- The Curious Relationship Between Mallards and Canada Geese

Mama mallard and two ducklings at Central Park Reservoir. She has five babies, but three were wandering out of picture range.
Greta (right) spending special time yesterday with her two daughters.
Hansel returning to the fold yesterday after spending special "man time" with his son.
A very brash female mallard. And yes, mallards can be bold and brash -- much to the annoyance of Canada geese.
The curious relationship between mallards and geese.

They both often share the same lakes and ponds. They generally enjoy the same diet. Both species migrate and both are intelligent and highly adaptable.  And though both are remarkably social with humans, these may be where the similarities between mallards and Canada geese end.

Both in personality and lifestyle, the two bird species are quite different.

One of the key differences between mallards and geese is that geese mate for life and both parents raise their offspring whereas mallards are generally polygamous in their affections and it is usually the mother who alone, raises the ducklings (There are, however rare exceptions to this rule. I once noted a mallard pair raising their ducklings together at Harlem Meer, but such is generally an anomaly. -- Never say never!)

Probably because both parents are involved in the protection and rearing of offspring, Canada goose goslings have a substantially higher survival rate than do ducklings. A mallard hen can produce up to a dozen ducklings, but she is lucky if even half of them make it to their first month. Canada geese usually produce two to seven hatchlings, most of whom survive to adulthood if getting through the first few precarious days of life when they are particularly vulnerable to accident or predation.

Geese also appear far better organized and disciplined than are mallards -- even from the moment they hatch from their eggs. Observe a new family of Canada geese and one will note the goslings staying extremely close to their parents, both on land and in the water. A new mallard mother on the other hand, has a job trying to keep all her ducklings together as there is great tendency among the little ones to wander off and explore on their own --sometimes losing sight of their mama in the process! (It is, for example, common every spring and summer to read news stories of rescued ducklings who have fallen through storm drains or gotten themselves into some other precarious situation, whereas such are rare for Canada goose goslings.)

Although Canada goose goslings appear the same (as do ducklings), it is sometimes easy to guess the sexes of goslings by the behavior of the parents towards them. As the hatchlings grow, ganders heap more attention on the males while their female mates appear to spend more time and focus with the girls. Presumably this is to teach the youngsters from a very early age, the roles and duties assigned to and expected of them on the basis of their sexes.

Recently, for example, I arrived at the Central Park Reservoir to find the two girls of Hansel and Greta with their mother, while Hansel was with his son some twenty or so yards away from the rest of the family. This is something observed quite frequently over the past ten weeks since the goslings hatched, prompting me to conclude with some confidence, the sexes of the three goslings. (Already the male of the three has demonstrated protective behaviors most often associated with ganders. He has either been taught these by his father or is imitating them.)

Though it's possible that mother mallards may devote time and focus teaching their female ducklings "how to be girls," I personally have never seen it. From my observations, it seems mama mallards have their work cut out just keeping the family safe and together.

In essence, a key difference between mallards and Canada geese is the manner in which little ones are raised. Exploration and independence seem to be encouraged early on in small ducklings, whereas in Canada geese, discipline, order, devotion to family and sexual role identification are established in the dawning days of the gosling's life. Any deviations from the established protocols among geese tend to be met with harsh corrections and discipline. Canada geese appear to be in fact, the epitome of "tough love."

Speaking of love (and reproduction), this may be the primary way geese and mallards differ.  Put simply, when it comes to romance and devotion, Canada geese appear to have it all over mallards.

Love and sex in the mallard world is often composed of "Wam, bam, thank you, Ma' em." A female mallard not already paired up with a male, can find herself victim of harassment and even sexual assault by more than one drake. (A Park Ranger once told me that female mallards are sometimes killed in the spring by pursuit from several drakes. I have personally witnessed aggressive pursuit (and fighting) among drakes for one female and certainly the hens had a rough time of it, but thankfully survived. I suspect this is the reason some female mallards seek to pair up with a drake in the late winter in order to avoid later becoming a victim of spring hormones and "gang rape," so to speak.

Such roughness and "rape" is rarely, if ever observed in the goose world, though it is common for two ganders to fight heartily for the affections of a female goose.

But once the romantic connection is established between a gander and his female love interest, it IS literally, 'til death do part!

Following are just a few of the many examples of devotion and undying commitment observed in Canada goose pairs over the years:

*  Several years ago, a nesting goose became ill and perished at the Central Park Reservoir. Her devoted mate searched and called out plaintively for her for weeks. Although other geese arrived at the Reservoir for the summer molt (most of them young "singles"), the bereaved gander chose to remain alone. When the molt ended weeks later and the other geese departed, the widowed gander still remained alone and searching on the water; indeed a sad and lonely sight.  (This phenomenon has been observed in other widowed geese, as well.)  The grieving process in geese over lost loves is a profoundly long and painful one.

*  Canada goose ganders do not abandon their mates even after repeated nest failures. For some years Central Park practiced Canada goose nest and egg destruction. Time and again I observed known goose couples mourn the losses of their eggs.  But the same goose pairs would return the following year to try again. Nor do ganders abandon their mates if they suffer injury of disability. There is an older goose pair at Central Park's Turtle Pond who have been together for years -- this despite the female ("Stumpy") missing a foot and not being able to keep up with her mate ("Stanley") on land and in the water.

*  Last October during the migration season, a lone Canada goose remained on the water at the Central Park Reservoir long after her gaggle (and mate) departed. It's not known what caused her to be left behind, but for days she remained stoically on the water either waiting for death or for her mate to return. Other skeins of migrating geese arrived and departed, but still the lone goose remained; a forlorn figure under the chilly and foreboding skies. Then, after nearly a week, (when I expected to find her dead on the water), I was shocked one evening to find the loner goose suddenly swimming with a mirror image beside her -- so close were the two geese they almost appeared as one on the water! The image was the very definition of romance as it seemed (following such trauma), the two geese would never let each other out of their sight again. The next evening the two flew out together to presumably try to catch up to their migrating flock many miles ahead.  The main thing though was that they had found each other again. A true romance story.

Of course, mallards and other ducks often form extremely close bonds, but I have not been witness to the kinds of undying devotion and commitment one commonly sees in Canada geese. Such steadfast devotion is in fact, rarely seen in so-called, "monogamous" humans.

Although they share certain similarities (and many differences), the relationship between mallards and Canada geese is a curious one.  There are times they appear to regard the other as either, "nuisance" or "bully" and there are times they actually work together -- especially to get through a particularly rough winter. Mallards are smaller and faster than geese and during icy times, help to break up small ice patches in the water. Geese on the other hand, (being heavier and slower) help to break up snow on the ground which aids mallards in finding food.

Mother mallards will sometimes seek out a goose family with goslings to roost near with her ducklings at night.  (I personally observed this at Turtle Pond seven years ago.) The vigilance and protectiveness of Canada goose parents helped ensure extra security for the mallard mother and her babies.

In essence, though they don't always "love" each other, mallards and Canada geese have worked out a highly beneficial relationship for all over the years. They don't have to love in order to respect and place significant and intelligent value on the company of the other for their own ultimate good. 
Both species are unique and special in their own ways -- as is, all life.  -- PCA