Tuesday, April 18, 2017

A Tale of Two Nesters

John protecting as Mary gorges herself.  
Greta busily pulling down from her breast in preparation for nesting.
John and Mary still enjoying the good life while.....
Greta finally settles down in her elaborate nest.
Greta still primping and fussing.
Greta's carefully prepared nest bed. (Eggs hidden underneath.)
Mary apparently nearly or totally blind in right eye. Age catching up to her.
Mary's hastily prepared nest bed. No frills and no down yet.
But Mary is working on it now.
Both Canada goose hens nested last year. Both (together with their mates), successfully raised three goslings. Both left the Central Park Reservoir last August and returned this past March with their families. And both have chosen the exact same spots this year to once again nest.

But those are where the similarities end between Greta and Mary. 

The first difference noted was when it became time to send the kids from last year on their not-so-merry way in order to re-establish romantic pairing with their mates and prepare for nesting.

Mary joined with her mate, John, in chasing and vanquishing the grown goslings away whereas Greta left the job entirely to her mate, Hansel. (Greta was more focused on other things.)

Even greater difference was demonstrated in actual preparation of the nest site.

Greta and her mate, Hansel, hovered around and vigilantly protected the nest site for many days before actually settling down to nest. Greta particularly primped and fussed to "get her house in order" before ever laying her first egg. She pulled and removed weeds for days and busily arranged leaves and plucked down from her breast for her eventual nesting bed.  

Although Mary checked out her nesting site when first arriving to the Reservoir, she and her mate neither hovered around nor protected it. On the contrary, Mary and John spent most of the next several weeks lazing on the opposite side of the Reservoir and fattening up.

But even more surprising than avoidance of the actual nesting site was Mary and John's apparent decision to take a two-day "vacation" away from the Reservoir entirely just prior to nesting!

I searched all around the Reservoir for two days and with no sign of John and Mary anywhere, I finally concluded that they were apparently not nesting this year or made late day decision to nest elsewhere.

Then, a few evenings ago, while walking north to Harlem Meer, I suddenly heard excited honking in the skies above me, looked up and noticed two geese hastily flying towards and landing at the Reservoir!

The next evening, Mary was back on her old nesting site and had dropped at least one egg.

Rather than painstakingly "getting her house in order" prior to nesting, Mary instead decided that a romantic jaunt and presumed exotic banquet were more important than primping and fuss of the nest site. (I say that it was Mary likely making these decisions as it is the female hens who make all the nesting decisions, rather than their ganders. Ganders have their own responsibilities and decisions, most of which have to do with protection and vigilance of their mates and families.)

In looking closer at the now two nesting hens, it appears that Mary is quite a bit older than Greta.  I am personally aware of Mary and John making many nesting attempts at the Reservoir over the years, whereas this is only the fourth year for Hansel and Greta. (Mary is also darker in coloring and appears either partially or totally blind in her right eye. Life is not always kind and easy for Canada geese.)

All of this reminds me of a commercial for baby diapers: "Life after your first kid. Life after your second."

Or perhaps with age, comes a certain Laissez-Faire or living every moment to its fullest.

Why primp and fuss, after all, when you can enjoy romantic adventures and still drop your eggs in time for a May hatching?

Maybe Mary knows something the rest of us don't.  Embrace your responsibilities, but still make time for fun and romance with your mate.  :)   -- PCA 


No comments: