Geese: crazy, lazy or smart?
Winter is well settled in Lethbridge, and the Canada geese are still around. This is not unusual; it seems to be the same every winter. They hang around, perhaps waiting for the last dog to be hung, and now find themselves hung out to dry, freeze, starve . . . I see them now on the grain field opposite, hundreds hunkered down, their dark bodies against the mottled stubble and snow covered field.
Earlier, I watched them fly in, coming in many large and small flocks, all making for the same destination. They glide in, more gracefully than a space shuttle, their wings with a characteristic droop, sometimes making a half circle into the wind. A sharp fluttering of the wings and they are down; no runway needed for these space travellers!
With the ability to fly to warmer climes that we can’t without a lot of fuss, why stay around here? Are they fooled by all the talk of global warming and expect Arizona in Alberta? It’s not just the cold and shortage of food, the frozen ponds fool them. The elegant glide to water finishes up as an inelegant slide on ice, with nothing but their companion’s bodies to provide crash stops. I wonder what they make of that!
Of course, for some they are a pest. Vancouver’s beaches and walks become covered in what they no longer need, and they make occasional concerted attacks on inquisitive, defenceless humans who venture too close. Can’t (perish the thought) cull them, they are protected like the sturgeon, although I’m sure they’d make good eating. After all, it is Christmas, it’d give the turkeys a rest and we could get our goose cooked!
For all that, I can’t think of any Albertans that would be glad to see them go—either south for some sunshine, or onto a dinner plate. They are an elegant bird, more so than the ungainly big beaked pelicans we see here in the summer. They probably fly south, their feathers may be white but I’m not sure that makes them amenable to snow. Are they more sensible than the geese?
But why fly when you don’t need to? Birds, apparently, don’t fly for fun, or so I learned at a recent visit to a local bird sanctuary. They fly for food or migration, but apart from that, they’re happy to laze around. But these geese may not have heard that. They gear up their autumnal bodies for a long flight, their V-shaped formations passing my window like streamers on a windy day, and then decide not to go. All that wasted effort.
But then, Ann has me walking every day, not to go somewhere, but just to walk. And I don’t walk (or fly if I could) for fun. Apparently, it helps keep my body healthy. Perhaps that’s what the geese are after—more smart than lazy; no flies or fat on those birds! So perhaps crazy is out as well. I have to accept they know what they are doing, just like us . .
At least we think we know what we’re about, but sometimes I’m not so sure. We are probably more lazy and crazy than smart, and if we could get into those little goose heads, we might learn a thing or two. That’s unlikely, so let’s just watch the geese; it’s good for the soul.