Thursday, June 15, 2017
New York City Geese and Their Babies Finally Get Reprieve
I returned to Central Park's Boat Lake last night and was pleasantly surprised to see that all four of the new goslings from two sets of parents are still thriving.
The two families stay close together all the time (likely because the mama geese are related) and the one lone gosling is beginning to interact with the three from the other family.
Though all the babies are strongly imprinted to their own parents, it is good to realize that the gosling without siblings will not grow up wanting.
Since family and group bonds are so important in geese, it is vital for little ones to grow up with a sense of siblings and/or geese within his/her own age group -- perhaps even a more compelling reason for the parents of the one gosling to remain close to the parents of three. Geese are extremely sensitive and responsive to the needs of their little ones, and those appear to include emotional as well as physical needs.
In other good news, it has been recently reported that New York City's Canada geese will not be subjected this year to brutal and cruel "culls" at the bloody hands of USDA Wildlife Services as they have been for at least, the last nine or ten years.
One suspects that this news comes on the heels of recent bird counts that show the number of resident Canada geese in New York City to be low and inconsequential -- in other words, not enough of the birds to warrant round up and slaughter efforts.
Since New York is a big hunting state (and geese are a popular target bringing in revenue to state coffers) it would be counterproductive to hunting purposes to kill all the geese of NYC, most of whom leave the city after summer's end. Even the parents with goslings leave the safety of Central Park as soon as the babies are grown and ready to fly (usually at eleven weeks.)
Speaking of "grown and ready to fly," the three Reservoir goslings are about halfway there now. At six weeks of age, the babies are now developing tails, feathers and are nearly half the size of their parents. They are also mimicking and demonstrating some of the behavior of their parents (especially daddy) in sometimes chasing off pesky mallards or even another goose who wanders too close to the family.
There are in fact more geese now at the Reservoir than when the goslings first hatched. At least a couple of dozen of new geese have flown in during the past few weeks as the watercourse represents a safe habitat in which to go through the annual six week molting period (the time when the geese lose old flight feathers and replace with new ones). It is during this time, that all the geese are unable to fly. It is also the period when geese are particularly vulnerable to "culls" -- though at least in NYC this year, that won't be the case.
Among the geese staying at the Reservoir through the molt this year are a number of juveniles whom I suspect are the offspring of Hansel, Greta and John and Mary from past years. There are also some old favorites, like the gander with white "eyebrows" who seemingly calls most of the shots among the temporary visitors.
Come the end of summer, however, all of the geese will be gone -- including Hansel, Greta and their new babies.
When the call of the wild beckons and their wings can take them, they go. -- PCA