March 12, 2002:
The Winter has been incredibly mild. No snow
to speak of. I've entertained the Gulls (and they me), mostly. A few Canada Geese show up from time to time, but
none smack of Poppy and Maudy. Some will gradually make their way to the Center Gate and my bread, but it's slowly and
carefully and the Gulls rule--they intimidate the Geese and snatch food out of their mouths...
But, the scene has been gradually shifting = fewer
Gulls each day = something's going on here:
The Gulls prevail most of the Winter, but they somehow
know that their time is up at a certain point and they don't bother with me and the Center Gate much, anymore. The Geese (Canada
Geese) are now In Charge of the Reservoir. And the Finalization of this is the Arrival of
Poppy and Maudy
I'm cruising the sidewalk alongside the first section
of the Rez and am on my way to negotiating myself and bike onto the street, heading for the Center Gate, when I hear Honking
and Hanking behind me. I slow down, look back and see two CGs running after me on the other side of the fence = Yes,
no doubt about it, they came to me straightaway and stare me square-in-the-eyes: "Ted, Ted--you're not Dead! And
neither are We. Whee!" (or honks to that effect).
How nice! This is the 8th year. Makes my
morning, makes my day, makes the Circle complete for another year!
March 13, 2002
Looking for P & M at the first section of fence
= nope. I make my way to the Center Gate and see only a Newer Couple who've gradually taken over prominence here.
OK, I squeeze some bread through and then...
Poppy and Maudy
Loud Honks from a far corner of the Rez. Closer
and closer and they fly-in right up to the fence. The Newer Couple doesn't know the Rule yet (Poppy is the Dominant
Male at the Rez--has been for 7 years, at least--and you must Defer to him). So, Newer Male decides to hold his ground
and it looks for a moment there's going to be a Battle Royal; but, Mr. New backs off when he realizes he's in-over-his-head,
P & M now control the Center Gate = Poppy:
"I'm not just Good, I'm the Best!" Maudy: "Good job, Pop, but this is only the beginning; I hope you're ready
for the Long Haul. Mm, this bread-candy tastes pretty good."
My Buddies. Cool. Spring's a comin'.
I must admit I'd lost track of P & M for quite some time.
And I'd been thinking depressing thoughts about the Rez Geese, in general:
For the longest time, I'd seen only two Goslings at the Rez.
Two. I turn to the Boss' wife, one day, and say: "You know, it's entirely possible that the Maintenance guys at the Rez have
been stealing eggs--a simple-but-cruel way to reduce the CG population. Only two babies out of the whole bunch--that's not
right." But, a few days later, a friend tells me he saw 2 Adults and at least 5 Goslings "That's news to me, but I'll certainly
look out for them." Two days later I find 4 Adults and 7 (!) Juvenals (a true Creche) near the fence. The Juvenals are very
developed = I can't believe this is the first time I've seen them = it would appear they've been reared towards the back of
the Rez all this time.
A little farther down, I see 2 Adults and 3 new Goslings swimming
towards the 'shore' and come up out of the water and straight to me--more Babies, yet! Cool. Are these Poppy and Maudy and
Family? I'm not sure. They come right to the fence, but they don't quite look like P and M. Hmm. Well, at least my Maintenance
Crew theory is probably wrong = Good.
I've counted at least 10 Babies, total, so far. And now today:
2 Adults and 2 Brand New Babies are near the fence this AM and when the Adults see me they come over, straightaway. Other
childless CGs come near, too, and the Female Parent charges them! Wait a minute! This has to be Maudy--she's the only Female
I know who instigates a Charge. "Hey, Poppy! Is this You and Maudy, really?" Head bob-and-weave = "You damn betcha!" Well,
I'll be! Late-bloomers, but
Poppy and Maudy
have two Babies this year! Great! Both P and M shoosh the
other CGs away (I really think part of it is showing-off-to-me) = Cool Parents, making sure their Babies get their share of
the bread, first. Two Juvenals have joined the fray, also, and P and M make it perfectly clear: "Wait your turn, period!"
No real fights; just Territorializing. And, here and there, they come back to the Fence and flash me those Looks: "Were still
alive and kickin', Ted Boy. Life goes on and we're in the Groove!" "You guys are really great."
A lot of Summer has gone by: Most all of the Juvenals are grown
and gone (along with the Adults)--except for one Couple and one Juvie =
Poppy and Maudy and one remaining Offspring
This is such a nice touch to This Year's Story: P & M had their
Two Babies late in the game. They lost one somewhere along the way, but managed to save this One (I call him/her Binky--pretty
silly, I know, but that's what came to mind). P & M knew well enough to keep away from the Creche (all the Juvies
were much older and would probably have pecked their babies to death--perhaps that's what happened to the one that didn't
make it?) and they're rearing Binky alone. There are no other Geese at the Rez, now. So, once I re-established
the Bond, we have a morning Ritual--all three are waiting at the Fence for me (along with several Mallard Ducks--I call them
There was a week when I was on vacation and didn't see them. I
thought maybe they'd forget about me in that space of time, but no--there they were, once again.
Binky is figuring his wings out now and he's learned early-on how
to shoosh the Mallards away = he's becoming a bona fide Canada Goose! He still doesn't have the
Adult Voice yet (still says 'peep, peep') but is almost full-grown, now.
There are days when I'm in a bit of a Funk and not looking
forward to the workday, but my Spirits are lifted every single time when I see my Buddies at the Rez. I think they look
forward to it, also = win, win! Bright Moments that make Life more livable and enjoyable. Thanks.
[01/26/02 e-mail from Dr. Gregg B. Feigelson,
Coalition To Prevent The Destruction Of Canada Geese]
Dear Mr. Unseth:
So good to hear from you!
Thank you so much for your compliments
about our main web page re-design - you are too kind!
So sorry about the error about Poppy's name - we'll fix it.
(There's no such thing as a web page without errors, right?)
Ah, the feeding question. Actually, the answer is
on our web site in the FAQ section. The short form is this: if bread or other man-made carbohydrates are just
a small percent of their diet - no harm done. Meaning that if their main diet is mostly plant materials (their natural diet)
and they are not subsisting on bread (which they WILL if given the opportunity), then there's nothing to worry about.
situation becomes problematic when the geese are at busy park and all day long people arrive with bread and the like and literally
stuff them to the point of nearly excluding their natural diet of grasses, etc. Based on what you have written, I don't
suspect this applies to your situation. The best way to view bread, is as goose junk food. Just as with humans,
a little is okay, but for optimal health it shouldn't become one's diet. As far as formal studies on the harm done by
bread, we have yet to see one. Common sense, however,
dictates that bread bears no resemblance to their natural diet for which the biochemistry of
their digestive systems have adapted over hundreds of thousands of years. Don't beat yourself up over feeding your feathered
friends the occasional bread treat. Some geese like cracked corn just as much, and it is nutritionally a little better.
The irony of the feeding issue is that the first people to claim that "geese shouldn't be fed bread because it is bad
for them," are those who hate the geese. Those who would just assume have them killed. While it is obvious
THESE PEOPLE don't care about the well-being of the geese, there is some truth to their claim, as I described above.
hope this is helpful in some small way.
Thanks for your wishes for a good New Year. May you and "your"
geese have a good year too!
[To learn more about Canada Geese click on the "Coalition To Prevent The Destruction Of Canada
Geese" link below]
Coalition To Prevent The Destruction Of Canada Geese