Thursday, April 9, 2009

The furious geese

Canada geese must be among the most unpopular birds in North America. People hate the way they take over parks, gardens, harbors, ponds, the verges of roadsides -- in fact, pretty much anywhere there's a blade of grass. People complain, most of all, about the way flocks of these big birds mess all over their lawns.

Okay, maybe it's because I don't have a lawn, but I love Canada geese. The way they honk their way across the sky in formation never fails to make me smile (especially if I was walking along staring at my shoes worrying about something). The way they honk their way across the street en masse, taking their own merry time, even though a line of cars is forming. Their velvety black necks.

Most of all, I love how furious they can be. On one side of Charles Island, off Milford, my friend Amar Kaur and I had to walk past what I am guessing were territories staked out by pairs of Canada geese settling in for the spring to nest. Canada geese mate not just for a season, but for life. Perhaps these have been their territories for many seasons before this. Though we were not close to any nests, we must have encroached on their invisible (to us) boundaries, because every twenty yards or so we were chased by a different pair of honking birds, necks held rigid, pitching themselves forward.

One goose in particular was not just protective and defensive; he was surely angry. I could feel his loathing. (Tsk, not only am I endowing this bird with human emotion, I am assuming it was male.) His honks were vicious; he opened his beak wide and, I swear, poked out his pink tongue. He flew right for our faces, and it was only when Amar Kaur waved a big stick in the air that he (resentfully) backed off. I turned around to catch a picture of this especially furious goose, and there he was, still facing me with utter defiance:

When we had passed, off he and his mate bustled into the thickets of the island, happily snuffling to themselves. They had class.


  1. Hi V,
    Excellent commentary on our run in with the fierce Canadian Goose. I guess we really "got his goose".

  2. Hi V,
    Today was another busy backyard bird adventure and I made my first novice ID of a Mockingbird. I was in the house preparing tea after some rigorous yard work, when the little fellow came to the birdbath. I was hoping he would stay a bit and eat some of the earthworms and grubs I had just disturbed in the yard. But he flew off to a near by tree where upon I got to listen to him sing while I drank my tea.

  3. What a perfect end to the day. It is amazing how all those lovely songs can come out of one little browny-gray bird, isn't it?

  4. Hi Vanessa
    Geese can indeed be furious. I recall with terror the day I took a group a 7 year olds to Lone Pine Koala Park in Brisbane, Australia. We ambled out onto a grassy hill on a beautiful, sunny day without a care in the world. This changed abruptly when we were accosted by a flock of honking, hissing, Cape Barron Geese. I am not an athletic person but I ran like I've never run in my life before trailing behind the children while urging them on to safety. The Japanese tourists armed with cameras truely appreciated the spectacle.
    Andrea - Brisbane, Australia