My son and I have been visiting the geese at our favorite park since he was an infant. Because Canada ( or Canadian) Geese remember and can recognize people, they have come to know and trust us and often times, we are greeted by the entire flock (30+) at our car when we pull up. They’re very loyal to their friends, both feathered and two-legged. Sometimes we are greeted by our feathered friends even when we aren’t in our normal hangout, and when we don’t have any food. They will fly or run up to us, honking excitedly, extending their necks toward us, in their ‘ceremonial greeting bow’, something they do toward other geese. It’s nice to feel accepted among the flock – especially since we have no wings.
They’re Still Wild Animals
I’ve noticed, though very tame toward my son and me, ‘our geese’ are far from ‘domesticated’ and are still wild and wary of people they do not know. Sometimes, when we’re hanging out with them, other people strolling by will stop to talk or admire the birds. The geese will let out these distinct warning honks – starting with the ‘head goose’ and begin to shy away or take off into the pond eyeing the other people suspiciously and come back once the ‘stranger’ has left. Even when we bring friends, our geese will come toward us, but keep a safe distance while looking at the people they don’t know warily. Once Chey and I are alone, they come back up.
We don’t always bring food, but when we do, we bring healthy things like cracked corn, defrosted frozen peas, wild bird seed, chopped vegetables, grapes cut in half etc. The problem with feeding them processed human foods like chips, bread, popcorn, etc., is that too much protein is bad for them and it can cause a deficiency in vitamin E, vitamin d and manganese. Bread is also very filling and when the birds are filling up on bread or junk food, they are not getting enough nutrients from their normal diet. This is especially true in baby geese (goslings) where the breast muscles do not form properly, they can’t support their wings and it begins to jut out to the side. This is not life-threatening in itself, but leaves them vulnerable to predators, because they can no longer fly – it’s called Angel Wing.
Bossy, Fred, Edna, Pickles
Each goose has a different personality. There are the dominant ones who will walk first, eat first – some bordering on bossy, chasing others away. Then there are the meek ones who will quietly inch up, often times hiding behind us, away from the bossy ones, in order to snag a piece of food before bossy chases them away. We have fun trying to remember and pick out who is who in a giant group of sometimes 50 feathered friends.
It’s All About Family
Did you know that Canada Geese are more intelligent and emotional than the average cat or dog? They are very family-oriented. Geese will choose a mate when they are about three years old and mate for life, raising new families together each year. If a mate dies, the other mate will sometimes wait several years before choosing a new partner, sometimes staying alone. They’re one of the few birds in which the family does not break up at the end of the breeding season.
One Foot, One Amazing Goose
There was one goose, a huge male we called One Foot. His other leg was wrapped in fishing line. He would always sit off to the side and hop/fly when he needed to move. It was very sad. One day when we were visiting, there were about 50 geese and their ‘teenager’ goslings enjoying some veggies, when I noticed One Foot looking at us from about 40 feet away. I have no idea what transpired, but I looked at him, he looked at me and began to make his way to us. The other geese parted like the Red Sea to allow him through. He came right up to me, plopped down and looked at me as if to say, “OK, lady, I made it, now how about some food?”. It was the most amazing thing I have ever seen with ‘our geese’.
More Human Than Humans
Geese are capable of various ‘human’ emotions: happiness, sadness, jealousy, love and anger. They care about and are very protective, not only of their young, but of their mates as well. They grieve when they lose their mates and babies. They are more ‘human’ than most people realize…they are more human than a lot of humans I’ve seen… or maybe we just aren’t always ‘Goosey’ enough.
We enjoy admiring our feathered friends and learning about them and how they live. Hope you enjoy our photos, and remember…NO BREAD!