Friday, July 27, 2012

Friday, July 27th, 2012 has risen as the 38th day of summer. On the day of the Canadian Goose, you have 56 days of summer to grow back your summer wings.

I found myself wondering why I hadn't noticed any Canadian Geese on Cress Creek this summer. I had counted ten on a single log on the Spring Lake shore of Grand River, near the place where the Greenway trail turns through the cattails. I was studying, and I turned up an amazing fact. Mating and breeding occurs at time of the summer's molt. The adult geese lose the ability to fly until the goslings gain their wings. So before a goose settles down to make some goslings, the goose has to find a body of water it likes enough to stay for twenty to forty days. Swimming and waddling are all a goose can do for three to seven weeks. I am seeing signs that the wings of flight have grown back.
Last night, we lost the sun to our horizon around 9:12 PM. So we have given back 17 minutes of sun in the evening and 22 minutes of sun in the morning. I am not an astronomer or a meteorologist, so minutes are inexact. But it looks as if we have given up 40 minutes to the dark. All the animals sense this even deeper than my internal clock can sense it, and the birds have begun responding to the shortage. I saw a flock of fifteen birds pass over my head as I turned onto Airport Road, and I wasn't positive I was seeing Canadian Geese. The wings looked thinner in profile and I didn't hear the distinctive honking. And then the Canadian Geese, I am guessing, passed over the restricted zone of the airport.
Muskegon County Airport is a low volume airport, but it does land jets. Geese can run afoul of a jet, and the jet engine intake can suck them into the turbines. In 1995, a flock of Canadian Geese knocked a E-3 Sentry aircraft out of the sky at takeoff, and the crash killed all twenty-four crewmen. The Elmendorf Air Force Base in Alaska responded to keep the geese away from the airfield, and culled the flocks as one measure. Chesley Sullenberger safely ditched his Airbus A320-214 in the Hudson River, with 150 passengers and 5 crew aboard, after the jet struck a flock of geese on January 15, 2009. Canadian Geese might want to avoid rivers, lakes and marshes close to airports. Alas, geese aren't that smart.
If I am reading correctly, the plentitude of Canadian Geese arose from a small flock of geese found in Rochester, Minnesota in 1962. I have to wonder about that statistic. The geese have another black mark, and that is truly their green mark. Canadian Geese dine on grass, grass and more grass. Unlike the cow, which seems to digest it, the Canadian Geese makes grassy tubes of it. Allowed to mix with the water off a beach, the fecal matter might cause fecal coliform to grow in the water and close the beach. Plenty of land owners extend their lawns to the water line and then squirt a grape soda tasting substance on the trim grass. This works to some extent; however naturalizing the water line might be a better solution. Trim water lines usually cause cloudy water from erosion and runoff. I've seen Canadian Geese muck up more than one apartment complex pond, trimming the grass and piling up the tubes. It's not a good advertisement for Canadian Geese. I didn't see the cull at North Hills Village in Northville, Michigan, but the cullers left nothing but the Blue Heron.
When I was born, no Canadian Geese had overtaken Michigan. I didn't notice them until I had graduated from college. My former wife and I lived in an apartment complex called River Oaks, and the developer had been forced to preserve the wetlands. In the sixties, the developers of Warren and Sterling Heights had been allowed to fill the wetland up with rock and dirt, yielding more buildable ground. I couldn't live in Warren after living in Novi and Northville, with all the protected marshes, ponds and greenspaces.  The beautiful wetlands had dozens of Canadian Geese, and we brought bread to the ponds to feed them, Spring of 1990. Out driving near Perry Michigan, Fall 2010, I saw an immense flock of Canadian Geese, chevrons upon chevrons flying in formation, mixing in the flock as if an air battle were commencing. The flock was flying fairly high, and I am guessing the flock flew around three thousand feet. The flock made no progress in any direction until I lost the birds in my rear view mirror. I wonder if I will see larger flocks, growing year after year.
In 1984, Fennville, Michigan has started a Goose Festival, showing town pride in the geese that land on the fields south of town. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources purchased the Albert May Todd farm in 1949. Todd had raised mint for oil production. The 1930s saw around 1000 geese showing up in Fennville. My source doesn't say if the count dropped to zero during the fifties. In recent years, as many as 25,000 geese spend the day around Fennville during the fall count, with as many as 100,000 passing through during the season. As many as 20,000 stay around Allegan County instead of flying south.  Allegan County can use all the population willing to make a go of it, even our fine feathered friend, the Canadian Goose.
Hopefully, we'll always have the Shore:
Photography Credits
Canada goose

Description Canada Goose (Gosling), Burnaby Lake Regional Park (Piper Spit), Burnaby, British Columbia
Alan D. Wilson,
Branta canadensis Canada Goose flying near Oceanville, New Jersey, USA.

December 2011
Daniel D'Auria from Southern New Jersey, USA
Camera location 39° 27' 31.42" N, 74° 26' 2.72" W
Description USDA Wildlife Services agents round up and gas Canada Geese in Seattle in 2002

17 June 2002

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