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Article: Shorter neck Canada Goose found locally
Canada Geese a feature story by Judith D Mitchell

written in 2003 for a college journalism course

Basically an article concerning a shorter necked Canada Goose found locally

The Canada Geese (Branta canadensis) gathering on Mallory Lake, spread their long gray wings, lower their webbed feet and slide down an air current into the water. Mallory Lake is a small man made mere on the Edinboro State University of Pennsylvania campus.

John Marchese, who watches over nearby Edinboro Lake, said, “The Canada goose is an introduced species. In 1935 the game commission took captured pairs to Pymatuning and clipped their wings. The one (type of Canada goose) that is here is not native to the area.”

Norma Kline, a wildlife biologist who works at the Erie National Wildlife Refuge at Guys Mills, said, “In the 1970s and 1980s the Game Commission propagated the geese on game farms in the area.”

Marchese said, “The federal government still protects them as a migratory bird, but they aren’t migratory anymore.”

The mental capability of these birds is important to their survival. Kline said, “They have a wide variety of moods and gestures when they communicate with each other.” When they are being hunted they learn where safe havens are and spend time in those places.'

Marchese said, “Now they get off many lakes because of hunters. When the first shots are fired they go to the campus lake. There are 160 resident geese on a summer morning. We have people that count them.” Marchese continued, “In all reality no one hunts them (for food). Most people don’t like the taste of them.”

The Canada goose is the official bird of Canada. Many of them nest on Canada’s tundra. They do not like heavy brush or forested land. Marchese said, “Honestly, they like open expanses of grass.”

Randy Neyer, who is a naturalist working as an education specialist at the Stull Interpretive Center on Presque Isle, said, “They like fresh cut grass in a tailored landscape.”

The large gray birds like open places because they can see approaching danger. This makes places like golf courses, and any mowed area with access to water a favorite place for Canada geese.

Neyer said, “The biggest thing humans have against them is they are dirty (leave a lot of feces wherever they graze), but they are wild animals and they don’t clean up after themselves.”

The Canada goose is a grazing bird. They are suited to walking and grazing because their legs are set farther forward than the legs of other waterfowl.

Neyer explained, “When you see them in the summer they are eating a lot of water plants. In the fall they are in the fields eating corn and grass. They are altering their diets for the changing environment.”

Neyer said, “Another thing that happens with geese, males and females are identical (have the same physical markings). Breeding adults molt in summer, in July and August, the young do not yet have primary feathers so there is a two week window in which they cannot fly.”

The Canada goose’s natural habitat includes a body of water. A lake is a place it uses for safety. At night or when approached in the daylight they will stay on the water.

“They can run on top of the water with their wings, and I have seen them dive and become fully submerged in order to avoid danger,” said Neyer.

Cyndi Waldinger, who has a Bachelor of Science degree in biology and worked in the biology department at Edinboro University, has spent time studying at the Pymatuning Wildlife Center. She explained, “Water provides protection at night. Then, they can float and stay safe.”

Geese build nests in many different places. They like water marshes, but whatever place they chose it is usually an open position that allows them to use their keen senses of sight and hearing for protection.

Kline said, “When they start nesting they become resident. A very interesting kind of behavior occurs when they nest; individual nests are laid in close proximity to one another. When the broods hatch, goslings from one brood may leave their own nest and move to a brood that is considered a superior group.

Kline continued, “The parents of the new brood may have several of their own hatchlings but will accept the goslings from the weaker family unit because it means more chance of survival for their own offspring within the larger group.”

Geese will fly up to 20 miles to find sources of food.

Neyer said, “There are more geese at times than suitable habitat. Too many of something is not a healthy community because it creates a shortage of food.”

He said, “On the peninsula they stay mostly on Thompson Bay and Misery Bay. One mistake humans make is if they feed an animal. If the goose does not have the opportunity to slowly altar the amounts of new feed types it receives the bird will not obtain much value from the ingested food.”

There are two basic ways to control populations of geese that insist on using golf courses, ponds and small lakes with mowed lawns as habitat. The two categories of ways are lethal and non lethal. Hunting is a lethal control.

Margese said, “Using a border collie to chase them is a way people discourage them.

Every year I go down to the Pennsylvania Lakes conference, they have a speaker to tell about ways to control geese.”

In late Autumn the geese are gathering by families to fly just far enough south to escape the ice and snow. Canada geese spend time on the East Coast and return when the ice melts.

“You will see them in the very, very early spring as soon as the ice is gone into the late fall. They are non migratory and will stay as long as they can find food and they will go south long enough to find food. They won’t starve,” said Neyer.

Some References used:

Pennsylvania 2003-2004 Guide to Migratory Game Bird Hunting

Federal Register/Vol. 68, No 162/Thursday, August 21, 2003/Proposed Rules

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