Canada – we are the second largest country in the world (in land area) but we only rank 35th in population. On the world stage, we are really not that significant, and the situation is made worse because we live in the shadow of a country that is like a big brother who will never grow up and move away. It is difficult to be the younger, smaller, almost invisible sibling, but now and then we make our presence known. Our most successful strategy is the exportation of our wonderful nuisance bird, the Canada Goose.
These extremely adaptable big birds have taken to suburban life, and will even forgo migration completely if they find a home that suits their needs. This has led to permanent Canada Geese populations in many locations in the United States. They have few predators because they are such brash and pushy birds. Not very Canadian like, really. They have significant pooping power, which is why we are not all that unhappy to see them move elsewhere.
They endear themselves to many people because they are the signal that the seasons are changing. Their V formation flight, and ceaseless honking bring the welcome news that spring is on the way. In the fall, well, let’s not talk about what they tell us.
The field behind our house is a Goose feeding ground right now. The typical V formation flight is quickly abandoned before they attempt to land. There is much jostling, honking, and disarray as they make their final approach.
Once safely on the ground, they move in a herd across the field, hoovering up the seeds. Late in the day they take off in a group and return to the body of water they call home for the night. Once all the little ponds are frozen, many of these geese will head south. We will bid them a fond farewell for another season, and will not be too upset if some of them decide to settle down in the warm, hospitable lands of places other than here.
The Feather Files
Name: Branta canadensis
Alias: Canada Goose
Migration: Resident to long-distance migrant. Canada Geese breed throughout North America, except in the high Arctic and in the extreme southern parts of the United States and Mexico.
Date Seen: November, 2011
Location: North of Calgary, Alberta, Canada
The art of taxation consists in so plucking the goose as to obtain the largest possible amount of feathers with the smallest possible amount of hissing.
– Jean Baptiste Colbert –
The American Government is going to revive a $5.50 tariff on all Canadians who enter the United States by air or by sea. The Canadians have hissed and complained about this, but to no avail. Our retaliation will be to send more geese their way…
GOOSE, n. A bird that supplies quills for writing. These, by some occult process of nature, are penetrated and suffused with various degrees of the bird’s intellectual energies and emotional character, so that when inked and drawn mechanically across paper by a person called an “author,” there results a very fair and accurate transcript of the fowl’s thought and feeling. The difference in geese, as discovered by this ingenious method, is considerable: many are found to have only trivial and insignificant powers, but some are seen to be very great geese indeed.
– Ambrose Bierce –