Thursday, February 04, 2010

Fun with Nature, #23

(A rewind post, here is something from summer - in the middle of winter, actually from September. When all the locals return to school, we head for the beach. The nice tranquil atmosphere awaiting us there is just wonderful!

Canada Geese

Living in Canada, we know well the Canadian Goose during our nature, hiking, beaching travels. In fact, most people living in North America will likely recognize a Canada goose by its flock's flying "V" formation and defined black and white coloring.

When we used to live on the westcoast, one of our local nature parks contained many geese, fast becoming a problem in the community as they were mean spirited at times, nipping at young children and scaring them away.

Often their poop filled the park and picnic table areas, and nest sightings were many along the edges of the waterways.

One day we were taking a break from our schooling on an exceptionally lovely day, meandering about to find more treasures to take home for display on our nature table.

We came upon a municipal trio in a boat, a boat docked along the edge of one of the islands within the manmade lake there.

Nearby a goose was honking wildly. It caught our attention, and we began to turn our heads to the goose and back to the boaters, realizing suddenly what they were up to. Their mandate was to find the geese eggs and shake them up to control their population in this more residential area.

We actually sat for a while in one of our favorite spots, continuing to watch and observe the unusual scene before us as the boaters left that small island for another, and another, and one more. Six nests in all were found with all the eggs shaken.

When the paddled off into the distance, the mother geese returned to their nests, still honking wildly to discover what awaited them there.

Nature can be interesting but lessons learned would tell everyone living local to there not to feed these migratory birds too often. Each time we visited, a donut shop seemed to dump their evening leftovers on the shore, wrong food types for the birds, but imagine the sugar upload.

Fun facts about Canada Geese;

- They are noticeably recognized; black heads and dark upperparts, light underparts.

- Loud audible voices offer honking sounds.

- They commonly migrate in both spring and fall, and locally breed.

- Their habitat varies from lakeshores, riverbanks, ponds, farmlands and city parks.

- Canada geese mate for life and are devoted parents.

- Unlike most birds, the family remains together for more than a year, increasing their survival rate.

- Geese graze on aquatic grasses and sprouts, usually seen tipping up to grab for aquatic roots and tubers.

- They can become aggressive, hissing and offering outstretching of their necks to nip when becoming instinctively in defense mode.

Canada Geese, along with most other waterfowl species, molt all of their flight feathers at once resulting in a short flightless condition. It can become detrimental to most birds, however the goose is still able to obtain food and escape predators. All of their feathers then become fresh and strong for a long fall migration.

At the water's edge this particular day, there were numerous feathers laying about along the beach. Children are always drawn to picking up such wonderful treasures, aren't they? They are also great to collect, however being able to identify some of them require reference resources.

When our children gathered a few feathers to bring home, obviously they knew they were from Canada geese. Curiosity and intrigue visited, so we decided to go ahead and Google
"Canada Goose Feathers" and managed to stumble upon this website here.

From the chart included on the website, this feather measures 32 cm. and came from an adult goose. Our other feathers were approximately the same size.

In flight

And then, as per the usual temptation, a walk becomes a sudden sprint to capture all geese nearby into flight.

These birds however aren't all alarmed by the pounding feet along the water's edge, so some remain on the shore. It's the end of summer and most likely they aren't flying far yet without their strong feathers in place.

I warned the children to be careful as they may turn suddenly and begin hissing, thinking perhaps a defensive mode is required against this human threat.

Then again, maybe they are so used to humans here at this easterly water's edge, they aren't fearful.

And here again I will leave you with one of my favorite thoughts; "Any time is beach time!".

As always, you can find more "Fun with Nature" posts by clicking HERE to read the others in this category. Enjoy!

Have a great day! :)