Geese and ducks!

May 1, 2018 • 9:00 am

Well, my latest working hypothesis is that the mallard hen Honey is holed up somewhere for a month (she disappeared around April 20), brooding her eggs, which have a gestation time of 28 days. Sir Francis is still holding down the pond awaiting her reappearance, and seems to largely ignore the geese, who eat grass and disdain the corn and peas that Frank gets (he doesn’t eat mealworms). Or so we can hope. I’ve had the pond water level lowered so the ducklings can have a place to rest.

In the meantime, the Canada geese 88K (female) and 92P (male) continue to brood their offspring. They’re allowing me to get quite close so long as I kneel down and remain still. Here are some shots from this morning when 88K was brooding her six goslings under her wings. They eventually woke up and the family begin grazing on the grass.  I’ll accept suggestions of names for this pair, though 88K and 92P have a good ring about them.

I’m told that the goose family was moved two days ago to the pond from the roof of the Chemistry Building (Searle), where they had nested. It’s five stories tall, so there was no way the goslings could get down on their own. Thus The Department of Natural Resources was called to move the family to Botany Pond. When I asked how this was done, I was told that they trapped the goslings and used them as bait to lure the parents to the pond.

Here are some photos:

88K brooding her young beneath her wings and body:

I know geese are noisy, aggressive, and poop all over the place, but I’m still bonding with them. They are, after all, wild birds like ducks, but evolved to behave differently. And they have not been aggressive toward me. Plus they’re beautiful. Here’s the male, who’s larger than his mate 88K. I feel sorry for the adults having to wear that stiff collar:

Goslings foraging. They’re eating only grass, though they’ll tentatively peck at the peas. That’s okay; I don’t want them to compete for food with Frank and Honey (if she returns):

To think these things grow up into those huge, aggressive birds!

We’ll have to report 92P to the feds so that Anna can get her Goose Spotting Certificate. Here’s his leg leg band that I photographed. Anna went to the pond with binocs this morning and read 92P’s number as 116819974. With both neck and leg numbers, that will get her a certificate for sure!


29 thoughts on “Geese and ducks!

  1. What is that tree in the background of photograph #4? Swamp Cypress (Taxodium distichum) or Dawn Redwood (Metasequoia glyptostroboides)? Or other?

  2. I’ll accept suggestions of names for this pair, though 88K and 92P have a good ring about them.

    Hell, would you rename R2-D2? Leave well enough alone.

  3. I think the webbed feet are so neat. I recently got a picture of a Canadian goose (Canada?) and the feet specifically. I never realized they had that type of texture before.

    1. Yes, the correct common name–with birds, they are regulated–is Canada Goose, not Canadian. Same with the Canada Warbler.

      Perhaps the namers were following the pattern of state names–Kentucky Warbler, Tennessee Warbler, etc. For some reason, when we name birds by state we don’t tend to use a modified form of the the proper noun.

      With countries, though…there’re a ton of common names that start with “American” and “Mexican.” Canada’s just special, I guess.

      1. Canada thistle, too. Horrible invasive. I’ve always wondered what they call it in Canadia.

    1. My father said years ago that they are maligned because people accidentally create “supernormal” environments for them in parts of the US. The proverbial corporate campus with acres of “perfectly groomed” grass will get invaded by Canada geese and then get “ruined” by all the poop.

  4. Perhaps i am thick as a whale sandwich ,but why is the ring on the Goose’s leg upside down ?
    Would it not be easier to read the right way up?

    1. I suspect it’s easier to read that way when the geese are caught. If the geese are lying down, it’s easier to pick up a leg to read the tag, than pick up the whole body.

  5. Ok, that does it. Now I’m getting attached to geese.

    For 92P I would suggest the name ‘Entropy’ (which sort of sounds like 92P).

    1. OK… “Entropy” wouldn’t sound right for a cat, but a goose… maybe.

      Actually, here in Tampere, Finland, both Canada geese and barnacle geese present a bit of a problem, as both seem to conquer niches previously held by mallards.

  6. Seeing their home is atop the Chemistry Building, let their names be Uranium (92) and Radium (88). Or Phosphorus and Potassium.

    Since I’ve reinstated the birdfeeders, I have my own pair of ducks visiting again, and they’re called Arwhen and Aracorn, in ducky honour of LOTR’s First Couple.

  7. So, in urban spaces are tall buildings with flat roofs an example of an ‘ecological trap’? To the geese it seems like a nice rocky outcrop, safe and sound away from predators. But when the goslings hatch it is an inescapable, smooth-sided, death trap. Unless helpful people rescue them.

  8. What % of Canada geese are banded // what are the chances that both members of the couples are banded?

    Do the geese perhaps regard the neck bands as sexually enticing / an indication of greater fitness?

  9. Glad to know that I am not the only one observing duck/geese behavior in the pond. I go there everyday at 7:30am.

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