Sunday, August 14, 2011

August 14: Flocks of Geese

This morning I passed a large gathering in a farm field along Simonton Road. The field hadn't been hayed for a while, so the geese were surrounded by tall grass, with frilly white blooms of Queen Anne's lace bobbing above their heads. I'm sure there were a lot more geese in that field than I could readily see as I drove on past. It was almost comical, all those long necks poking up through the greenery and wildflowers. Migrating flocks pausing in the short-grass prairies of the Great Plains must have once looked like that. (I say "once" because there are so few pockets of this habitat left, though thanks to land conservation efforts there are some remaining bits of these once vast, wildlife-rich prairies.)

A little further along, on Meadow Street at this point, I passed another, smaller flock of geese. This group was grazing on what would best be described as a large lawn of cropped, green grass. The geese were quite visible and well occupied with poking around for whatever it is geese poke around for in fields... I know domestic geese like to pull up plants and can actually nicely weed a garden bed. Were these geese simply plucking grass or was there something juicier they were after?

OK, I had to look that up. According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, "Canada Geese eat grain from fields, graze on grass, and dabble in shallow water by tipping forward and extending their necks underwater. During much of the year they associate in large flocks, and many of these birds may be related to one another." So these flocks I was seeing were probably extended family groups chewing on the scenery. But when I saw them, especially the first, larger flock that made me laugh, I wasn't actually thinking about their feeding habits or their communal behaviors (e.g. it's a well-known fact that geese generally pair for life). I was thinking, "Geese are on the move already? [Expletive deleted.] Summer's almost over?!"

Geese flocking in fields.
I'm never ready for change, 
but Earth keeps turning. 

1 comment: