Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Take a Gander...

Perspective is everything.

Some see the Canada goose as a poop machine. I myself never appreciated this goose until I read The Once and Future King by T.H. White. They are amazing creatures, and although I disagree with White's assessment that the geese are anarchists--I think they are a purer form of socialist, following the ideals of Robert Owen's cooperative movement--I was wonderfully enlightened about their behavior.

Geese are very protective of their family group. Have you ever seen a flock grazing in an open field? You will always see one goose with its head raised, staying alert for danger. That goose will eventually have his turn to eat, and another head will raise to take over the guard. This is an important and recurring theme in goose behavior. Every bird does what they can for the benefit of the group, and when they need a break the other geese are there to help them.

We have a family of geese that made their home in the pond in front of our library. At first, there were only two birds, but soon they had a clutch of goslings. Geese are doting parents. They hiss and lunge at any creature that tries to come near their babies. It is always a thrill to catch them on the day they move their family to the big pond at the cemetery. One parent at the front, one at the back, and their children lined up in between. I can't help but see the resemblance to a school group out on a field trip. Some of the children of the library geese always return to the family nesting ground with mates of their own. An interesting fact I discovered while doing some research is that a group of a few adults and number of goslings is called a crèche. I find it amusing to see them all relaxing in the water on a summer's day under the stern look of the plastic owls that were placed around the pond to scare them.

And then autumn comes. And our geese stay. They are non-migratory. But they do group together more. Sometimes I see the flocks pass over our house, so many V's they look like W's or M's. It is breathtaking to see them in flight. Each bird benefits from the flight of the bird in front of it. When the lead bird tires, it falls back and another takes over. Doesn't this sound like the perfect family? Each supports the others, and when they need it, the others are there to support them. No one fighting in the back of the V. No one whining, "It's my turn to be in front," or threatening, "Don't make me break this formation!" Everyone works together because they know they're survival depends on it.

Today's lesson from You can learn a lot by watching animals:
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Be supportive of your family and take turns.

1 comment:

appleleaf said...

Unique looking birds, too.
So it's a "creche" of geese? That's a good analogy, when I think of all the little children in the creches I've known over the years.
I always enjoy your lessons from watching animals.

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