Scene of Serenity

Canada Goose (Branta canadensis)

Geese can be a noisy bunch when hungry or angry. The Wikipedia entry for them notes:

Extremely adept at living in human-altered areas, Canada geese have established breeding colonies in urban and cultivated habitats, which provide food and few natural predators. The success of this common park species has led to its often being considered a pest species because of its excrement, its depredation of crops, its noise, its aggressive territorial behavior toward both humans and other animals, and its habit of stalking and begging for food

None of that bad behavior was in sight here in the early morning. Several dozen adult Canada Geese landed in the North Basin near the glass beach at the Schoolhouse Creek outfall and composed a scene of utter serenity. They slumbered on the beach. They slipped quietly into the water. They floated in a placid group with nowhere to go and nothing to do. Such a life.

Sizeable numbers of geese usually hang out in the mudflats on the south side of University Avenue with colonies of gulls. Possibly this flock in the North Basin are migrants arriving here from northern breeding grounds. Possibly the south side belongs to the settled resident flock that breeds here. Just speculation. The goose population is so large that encounters between settlers and migrants are unavoidable.

Canada Geese are a recovery story like the Sorcerer’s Apprentice. They were just about extinct due to hunting and habitat loss in the early 20th century. In the 1950s, private and governmental rescue and restoration programs went to work and soon released a few thousand geese into the wild. By the year 2000, the North American population was estimated at four to five million birds, and still growing rapidly. Geese have benefited from the same habitat conversion processes that have decimated the populations of some other birds. Conversion of land to agriculture and development of sprawling suburbs has provided geese with stable bodies of fresh water and ample manicured grasslands with few natural predators. Geese quickly grow accustomed to and unafraid of humans, and are big and fierce enough to hold their own against our pets. Geese protecting goslings will not hesitate to attack a human and can inflict painful damage with their powerful wings. However, human habitat also poses hazards that can kill, as a goose in the park recently found out when it collided with a high-voltage wire in front of the hotel; see High Voltage Wire Kills Goose, July 16 2021.

Canada Goose (Branta canadensis)

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