Monday, January 10, 2011

CANADA GEESE

On Friday, Mom went out and bought us a goose.  She said that a goose was something that every home should have, but I think she might have been joking about this.  Anyway, our goose is about as tall as I am, and it's mostly black-and-white, like I am.  Our goose is made out of wood, and it doesn't eat anything, plus it doesn't poop, so that makes it pretty much the perfect pet.  Except that you can't eat it, which it seems like you should be able to do with a goose.






Mom bought our goose at an estate sale, and it was labelled "duck," but Mom knew that it was not a duck at all.  She knew it was a goose, and not just any kind of goose, but a Canada Goose.  So in honor of our new pet goose, I decided to do a little research on Canada Geese for my blog.






And here's what I learned:  Canada Geese are the largest waterfowl in North America.  Swans are the only water birds that are bigger.  There are more Canada Geese than any other kind of wild goose.  But it didn't used to be that way because in the early 1900s, the biggest kind of Canada Goose almost went extinct.  But then people started all these programs to bring the goose back in the areas where it used to live and also to get it to live in some new places.  And now they are sorry they did this, because there are so many Canada Geese that lots of people think of them as pests.

Canada Geese like to live near water, where there is lots of nice grass and grain for them to eat.  They spend as much as 12 hours a day eating, and you will often see a bunch of them out grazing on a golf course or in a park or on a soccer field.  Also they eat stuff that is underwater by reaching down with their long necks and tipping their butts up in the air.  Then they feel around with their bills until they find some tasty plant or something, and they pull it up and eat it.





Some Canada Geese go way far north in the summer to make baby geese, and then they come back south to spend the winter where it is warmer.  This is called "migration."  But some geese don't bother to migrate anymore, maybe because it's too much trouble to do all that flying.  So these geese just stick around in the same part of the country all year.  They can do this if the lakes don't totally freeze up in the winter, and if there is enough food for the geese to eat.  Around here, in Missouri, most of the geese seem to stay all year.






When geese do migrate, they fly in a big "V" shape, and they honk a lot while they are flying, so that if you hear them, you can look up and see the "V" flying through the sky.  The reason they fly in that shape is because it makes the birds less tired -- well, except for the lead bird, who has to be really strong to fly through the air first, ahead of all the other birds.  But when the lead bird gets tired, he trades places with another bird, so the other bird can do all the hard work for a while.  Geese can fly in this way at 30 to 55 miles per hour, and they can travel more than 650 miles in a day.  When they get tired and hungry, they can just stop and take a break in a marsh or a farmer's field or at a McDonald's.

Canada Geese make their nests on the ground near water, in an open place where they can see if anyone is sneaking up on them.  The nest is made of dry grasses, lichens, and mosses, and it is lined with down and some body feathers.  The mama goose makes the nest and sits on the eggs while the daddy goose guards her.  There are 5-7 eggs, and it takes them 28 days to hatch.  The baby geese are called "goslings," and when they come out of their eggs, they have yellow down, and their eyes are open.  By the time they are a day or two old, they can already walk, swim, eat, and dive.

Goose eggs are yummy, which is why raccoons, foxes, skunks, weasels, crows, and gulls all like to eat them.  Goslings are also yummy, so eagles and owls are usually trying to snatch one up.  Adult geese can be hunted by wolves, foxes, coyotes, and bald eagles.  Oh, and also by human hunters who hide in the marshes and then shoot the geese when they land there.



My research sources did not mention anything about dogs eating geese, but speaking as a dog, I think some goose meat would make a lovely supper.  What's annoying about geese, though, is that they do that nasty hissing thing, and also they can nip you really hard, even if they don't have any teeth.  So I don't think I could hunt a goose myself.  I think I am too small.  But maybe I could get a gosling.  Or a duck.

Anyway, I will just mention before I stop writing, that my brother Gabe, who went away to the Rainbow Bridge, used to love to be where there were lots of geese because he liked to roll in goose poop.  Mom hated it when he did this, because it made him all green and slimy.  Well, I hope that there are some nice, poopy geese at the Bridge, and that Gabe is doing all the rolling he wants to do!

6 comments:

  1. I'm a day late with this comment. I enjoyed the blog on Canada Geese. When I was married, that's a whole other story....ugh. Anyway, when I was married, to a very outdoors type guy, we use to go to Trenton (I think) where there was some kind of a nature preserve. They had lots and lots of geese; especially Canadian Geese - I always thought they were very pretty and interesting to watch.

    I, too, hope Gabe is rolling and rolling in all the "poop" he wants to roll in. He deserves to do that!!
    Love, AP

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  2. Isnt it illegal and cruel to hunt Canadian Geese?! And so many at that!

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    1. I don't know what the laws are about hunting, but I imagine there is a season when it's legal to hunt geese, just like it is to hunt ducks. It looks like those 3 guys in the photo shot an awful lot of geese, but they probably each got whatever the limit is. At least Canada geese are not endangered, so it's not like they are about to go extinct if people hunt them. It does seem cruel, but it might be better than having so many geese that there's not enough food for them all, and then they starve to death.

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    2. It's not illegal, and it's not cruel too because we've been hunting geese for several generations where I live. :|

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  3. That last comment by Anonymous is saying it's not cruel because it's been done for years.
    I hope I'm not the only one that sees a complete and total lack of logic in that statement.

    Hunting can be very cruel because it can cause injuries to an animal that possibly could get away and have to suffer for God knows how long, plus the birdshot (or virtually any ammo) is made of lead and can cause lead poisoning if it is ingested and it pollutes the area.

    If we (humans) weren't so set on owning and controlling everything we would have a more balanced ecosystem and there would be no need for most hunters to hunt. SOME need to for food, but most just enjoy killing something that: A)Doesn't even know the hunter is there and B) has no way of dealing with an attack from a distance. If someone is starving it's one thing, but for "sport" it's not necessary. Actually no meat is necessary, one can get every nutrient and mineral and all the protein one needs with a Vegan diet.

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  4. Canada Geese are inevitably problematic and leave a trail on your lawn. They are so annoying.

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