Visitor or Resident?
This morning while waiting for the school bus to pick up my son, I heard the familar honking of Canada geese. I am used to seeing the local flocks of 10 or so geese flying from the Housatonic River in the center of town to the pond near our house, or onto the wide lawns of the private school just around the corner.
So I looked just above the horizon in the direction of the sound, but saw nothing. I kept looking around for the familiar V formation of flying geese, but still nothing. Finally I looked directly overhead and there they were—a large group, in a V of course, but way up in the sky, much higher than I usually see them. A second group at the same height passed over a minute later. The geese—at least some of them—are heading north to their breeding grounds in Canada. A sure sign that spring is on the way.
The Canada goose is a large, handsome bird with its distinctive markings, and is extremely common in North America. It is also somewhat of a pest, occupying open fields and parks, and leaving droppings everywhere. Because of the abundance of food, the Canada goose has adapted to suburban life and many no longer migrate very far south in the winter. It has become a year-round resident where I live, despite the cold weather we can get.
Because of the mess the Canada goose makes, towns or private property owners make efforts to keep the geese away. Some places have people bring trained herding dogs, such as border collies, to periodically chase away the geese. Other places have plastic coyote decoys placed around the property, since coyotes are predators of the geese. None of these approaches are terribly effective and most people I know have just gotten used to cleaning their shoes after a visit to a grassy park.
For more information and cool facts on the Canada goose, visit All About Birds.