February 17, 2021

The cold and snow have kept Melissa and I inside for nearly a week.  Since I needed to mail some letters for work, Melissa decided we needed to take the Jeep out to see how well it did on the ice and snow packed roads.  We drove around to several lakes where we fish (frozen over), did some mandatory doughnuts in the parking lots, and drove into the unpaved areas.  When we were leaving, I noticed a large flock of birds sitting on the ice in one of the coves.  I could not tell what they were but took a picture.  When I blew the shot up later at home, I identified them as Canada geese.

When I looked online it said while the Canada goose (Branta canadensis) is native to arctic and temperate regions of North America, its migration occasionally reaches northern Europe.  It has also been introduced to the United Kingdom, Ireland, Finland, Sweden, Denmark, New Zealand, Japan, Argentina, Chile, and the Falkland Islands.  Like most geese, the Canada goose is primarily herbivorous and normally migratory, and it tends to be found on or close to fresh water.  The goose is extremely adept at living in human-altered areas.  Canada geese establish breeding colonies in urban and cultivated habitats, which provide food and few natural predators.  These geese are often considered a pest species because of its excrement, depredation of crops, noise, aggressive territorial behavior (toward humans and animals), and a habit of begging for food (caused by human hand feeding).

I lived in a townhouse on a small creek when I was in Utah.  One night about midnight I awoke to a knocking on the sliding glass bedroom door leading to the patio.  Since my bed was only 30 inches from the door, I was alarmed.  I got up and eased the curtains back to see who was there.  The knocking happened again, and I looked down to see a large Canada goose standing on my patio.  It had seen its reflection in the window and was fighting the strange goose who had challenged it.  It decided to take up residence on my patio and washing it off (daily) killed all the grass around my back yard.  I threatened to have goose for Christmas, but it left just in time.

Thoughts:  While I have seen geese sitting on a frozen pond, I have also noticed patches of open water near them.  There is a bit of a question whether the geese purposefully keep the ice open or whether it was just the last patch to freeze.  The best answer I could find was, yes and no.  As the ice freezes the geese are concentrated near small patches of open water.  The movement of the geese stir the water and help keep the ice from freezing.  However, if it is cold enough it will freeze, and the geese will move.  I also found the name of the bird is actually “Canada goose,” not “Canadian goose.”  The author of the article suggested to say Canadian suggests the gooses’ citizenship (ha ha).  We can all continue to learn if we are willing to search for different answers.   Follow the science.  Change is coming and it starts with you.

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