Oh Canada, you can keep your geese…PLEASE!

13 03 2010

It all started so innocently at first.  The weather began to warm up, the trees began to bud, and the geese began their annual migration back to colder climes for the summer…

But first they take a pit stop to get their groove on and start a little goose family of their own before continuing on to, one can only presume, Canada since they are called Canada Geese.

Generally, as I’ve picked up over my time at our current office location, the geese like to nest near water which makes perfect sense to me.  There is a nice little pond about a 1/2 mile up the road from our office where you’d usually see a gazillion happy little geese couples (they mate for life, I hear) doing what happy goose couples do: cavorting in the pond, flying hither and yon, squabbling with the neighbors, and feathering their nests until one day when you would spot these cute little fluffs tottering around behind the happy little goose couples and making a cute little goose family…

EXCEPT…

One little misguided happy little goose couple decided that the lamp post in the parking lot at my office would make a WAY better home to raise their little ones than the obviously overpopulated pond.  After all, lamp post assured a well lit neighborhood for the kids to play and you didn’t have to worry about squabbling with the neighbors since you had to fly a 1/2 mile up the road to even encounter (fellow geese) neighbors.

It seems to me they overlooked a couple of key points in their selection process. Mainly that the nearest water (other than the aforementioned pond) was a tiny bit of a trickle of a stream, their new home was situated in a busy parking lot, that parking lot was often populated by wildlife curious children escorted by inattentive (or just plain stupid) parents/nannies/grandparents, AND Fergus.

How cute they were setting up their nest.  How sweet they looked waddling around gathering the materials for their little abode. How loving they looked cuddling together. A perfect little couple spending their day taking in the beautiful weather, looking for food, visiting with other happy little goose couples.

Day in and day out, Fergus, the Wee Beastie, my Welsh Terrier and I would arrive for work.  He’d show interest in the geese, but the walk to the office is short and in the opposite direction so he didn’t have time to assert his superior Terrier-ness towards them. Night in and night out we’d repeat the process in the opposite direction. Again with not much more than an attempt to rush by the Wee Beastie or a honk from one of the geese…

UNTIL…

Mr. Goose’s attitude changed.  He stopped being the carefree happy-go-lucky male half of the happy little goose couple and became a scrappy, mean-spirited little gangsta goose.  Now over the years (of what I now feel like has been a Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom special on Goose Husbandry), I started to realize that Mr. Goose would turn all gangsta about the time Mrs. Goose settled in to their little nest to lay eggs for their future little goose family.

Then things started to get ugly. At first he would only charge at us as we were entering or exiting the office if he was nearby. Later he would suddenly appear out of nowhere flying over when we had seen we’d come outside.  Stupidly I thought that he’d be scared off by the Wee Beastie and his tenacious terrier ways, but boy was I ever wrong about that!

Mr. Goose is fearless when it comes to protecting his Mrs. and their future progeny.  He would charge at us and Fergus would charge back with all the weight of his 24 physical pounds and 65 of his imagined pounds behind him. If a goose could taunt, ‘Heh, pipsqueak, think you can take me on, huh?’, I’m pretty sure he would have for he DID NOT back away from Fergus’ charge.

With great effort I was successful in keeping them separated for some time, until one day Mr. Goose blind-sided me before I could reign in the Wee Beastie, scoop him up, and make a dash for the office.  It was an interesting study in physics watching two objects in motion towards each other like that. I briefly pondered what the impact would be like as I was trying to get my wits about me and reign in my wayward Welsh before one or both of them was injured.  Then I was struck dumb as I saw the impossible happen.  My go to ground dog took to the air! He took to the air in an attempt to meet the goose in mid-flight.  They made brief contact as I was finally able to haul him back and scoot off with him in my arms.

I think that is the day that Fergus and I moved to the top of Mr. Goose’s hit list.  Mr. Goose had a lot of pent up rage and we had become the target.

FOR…

As this little episode of Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom played on outside my office window each day, oblivious parents would trot their children up near Mrs. Goose’s nest so they could see the ‘beauty of nature’ up close and personal, they would stop their SUVs alongside the geese and roll the back window down so their children could SCREAM at the poor things, and on one memorable day I watched a woman allow her toddler to toddle on up to Mr. Goose who was quite visibly agitated and hissing a warning.

While I figured this was Darwin at work, I couldn’t stand by while a woman, ignorant as she was, allowed her child (who was now well beyond easy reach of the mother) to walk up to a goose protecting his beloved and their wee ones. A goose that had shown no fear of a dog launching airborne at him when they were nowhere NEAR the nest.  I shouted out that she should be careful letting her child get so close to a goose because they were quite mean especially when defending their nest.  Darwin apparently defies meddlers since the mother looked at me like I had two heads and did nothing to stop her little one’s progress further from her and closer to Mr. Goose. I didn’t have the time to sit and watch that trainwreck unfold, though in a way I wish I had with camera in hand!

SO…

Similar episodes have been playing out annually, often with quite hysterical moments and we learned something else new about geese. Geese have amazing memories. Like ridiculously amazing memories. More than just migration patterns, rest points, and nesting areas. These geese remember people. They remember dogs. They remember cars. They remember offices.  These goose hold ridiculously long grudges.

When they would see us driving in each morning, he would fly in from wherever he was when he saw us coming and wait for us. More than once he pinned us in the office. To say that dear co-worker and I screamed like girls the day we exited office for the day only to have him chase us back into the office would be an understatement.  I will never forget the image of her pressed up against the door of the office one night when Mr. Goose landed in front of Fergus and me as I was trying to get him into the car, I went tearing back towards the office dragging Fergus behind me, as she was hollering at me to run the other way so as not to have the goose follow me back to her! Then there was the day Wee Beastie and I went out for a quick potty break (his, not mine).  We were still an office away from ours when Mr. Goose flew in and blocked our path back towards our office and I ducked into the nearest office (unoccupied but open) thinking to wait him out, but when you can hold a grudge for years what’s a couple of hours? I am not proud to admit this, but Beastie and I used bushes as shield to make it from that office back to ours.

NOW

They are getting smarter. They have upped their game.  We arrived at work the other morning and while I was gathering my things together my little goose detector went berserk. I looked around for our old foe, but couldn’t see him anywhere.  Then I realized that Beastie was directing his verbal assault upwards rather than his usual downward attack.  Slowly I turned…and looked up…and perched on the roof of our office were Mr. and Mrs. Goose…laying in wait…honking threateningly from above.

APB on an Amethyst Ford Edge with Loud Mouth Redhead and Wee Beastie.

APB on an Amethyst Ford Edge with Loud Mouth Redhead and Wee Beastie.

EPILOGUE…

There is a pay-off to our annual gangsta wars.  When we are super lucky we get to see it.  For all of the time they spend setting up their nest, laying the eggs, and incubating the eggs, when the little goslings finally hatch the newly formed family gets the heck out of dodge and quick! The first year they disappeared in the middle of the night, causing concern that despite Mr. Goose’s best efforts an animal had attacked the nest killing the new additions to their little family.  However the next year we were lucky enough to see the arrival of the little goslings, which taught us that the time between when they hatch and when the family relocates is very short indeed.  Watching those little balls of fluff get herded off by their parents was worth the grief AND made it quite obvious why they go to all the effort they do to ensure the security of  those precious eggs.

Sweet Rewards

Goslings at Charles River courtesy of A Bee in the City


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