Monday, May 3, 2010

GOOSE FAMILY FLOTILLA

Geese must either be the world's most patient parents, or they're unsurpassed at instilling discipline in their offspring. Let's put it this way—would you willingly take your twenty-one kids—all the same age—out for an afternoon snack and swim?
Yup, that's what I thought. Such an act is unimaginable. Sticking a burning splinter under each of your fingernails would be easier…and less likely to make you want to commit a felony. Yet geese do it all the time—take their whole brood for an outing, I mean—and never seem to mind or have any difficulties riding herd on their numerous fuzzy hatchlings. And the hatchlings…well, they swim or waddle in a mostly tight-knit group, and hurry to get back in place should they dawdle or become momentarily interested in something a few feet beyond the boundaries of family security.
Moreover, there's no squabbling among the ranks. Order is maintained throughout—and everyone seems cheerful and fascinated by the big new world.
Did you ever assemble even a handful of kids, take them on a walk, and not have to break up a fight or two and call them down repeatedly for becoming overly rambunctious? Well, of course you haven't. That's simply not possible…unless you're a goose.
Myladylove and I saw this goose family yesterday during our day of rambling. It took me a while to come up with a final head count (think of animated yellow tennis balls with webbed feet bouncing down a stairs) but after several tries, I settled at twenty-one; checking the photos later confirmed this number. I think that's a lot even for geese—but maybe not. I do know the parents were watchful of me, but not afraid; and the goslings were just adorable.
———————

58 comments:

Wanda said...

That last photo would have to win some type of an award...don't you think? I would be very happy, if I had taken the photo...or just have been there to see it!
...Wanda

Teri and the cats of Furrydance said...

Awww...talk about heart warming! That last photo is amazing!

Lynne at Hasty Brook said...

Eeep! That last photo is adorable!!

I could barely handle two babies (my kids are only 14 months apart)!!

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Wanda…

That was my favorite, too…but I didn't use it at the top of the post because I thought it was just too small. However, it really says everything…and if you double-click and look close, you can count all 21 goslings.

I am glad I got to see this—and glad to be able to share it.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Teri…

The one you like is the very last photo I made of the goose family. The light was awful; they were too far away; and I got lucky.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Lynne…

Thank you. That seems to be everyone's favorite, for sure—mine included.

Well, I only had one child, my delightful daughter, but I've regularly taken various gaggles of kids on field outings and the like…and I'll tell you Mom and Pop Goose know more about raising young'ns and getting them to mind than we humans will ever suspect, let alone master.

Gail said...

HI GRIZZ-

Great pictures - great share. Twenty-one kids!!! And we all could learn a lot from the way the "family" sticks together and respects the family security boundary. Fascinating and inspiring. WOnderful post.

Hey Grizz - sure has been a while since you let me know you were at my place - not that I am keeping track :-)

Love Gail
peace.....

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Gail…

We could all lear a lot from any number of animals, Canada geese being just one species.

I read you blog faithfully—though I've been awful lately about commenting. But I always read…

(And I'll try and do better re. comments. Not that you keep track or anything. :-D

Bonnie, Original Art Studio said...

How lucky are you to see that? And how lucky are we to have you share it in such amazing photographs?!! Wow! That last photo should be a poster for devotion (and maybe fertility?)!

So sweet.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Bonnie…

Fertility, yes—but more, too:

That poor Ms. Goose had to sit on a whopping big nest full of all those lumpy eggs for a long time, through some pretty cold and awful weather—dodging raccoons, coyotes, skunks, foxes, possibly an eagle (Do eagles steal goose eggs? I have no idea.) and all the while, Mr. Dandy Gander paddled and preened nearby, honking like a bus in heavy traffic whenever a few good hisses weren't enough to ward off possible intruders. What you see is the result of patience extraordinaire, courage…and I don't care if some do think I'm being anthropomorphic…love. Maybe not love in the way we humans understand such matters—but if those two geese don't feel something for their 21 little fuzzies, then the world is a far, far darker and more hopeless place than ever could be imagined. And I simply refuse to believe in such.

KGMom said...

What a wonderful photo. A goose train.
Actually, you could simply count the gosling heads in the photo. I too got 21.
It's amazing that the mama goose laid and nested and hatched 21. Unless, it is really a goose kindergarten?

Jain said...

Cornell Lab's "All About Birds" site says the average clutch is 2 to 8. 21 is outrageous -- surely Mom was on fertility drugs. Love the photos!

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

KGMom…

I knew better than to depend on the photos to give me an accurate head count—so I made certain I counted them for sure on the hoof—uh, that would a webbed-footed goose hoof equivalent. And of the thirty-odd shots I made, only two show every single gosling; in a lot of them, even when enlarged full-screen, 17, or 18, or 19 is the best you can do…and that's when all the little ones are on the visible side, or in-between their parents. They just disappear behind each other. I don't think I could have even been sure in my own mind that the full count was 21 and not 22 or 23.

Yup, they do look like a train. In fact, I almost entitled the post, "Here Comes the Goose Train!" But then I got to thinking what they even more reminded me of was a "tow" of barges, which is what they call a string of barges down on the Ohio River. But I didn't think that would be a common visualization for most readers—and "Here Comes the Goose Tow" didn't sound right, either. I talked myself out of that one, too, and came up with an admittedly poor title.

But the geese are still cute!

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Jain…

I've got several books on Canada geese (one on geese in general) and I guess 21, and more, is not unheard of—but it's certainly above average. In the condo before this cottage, there were ponds all around—and in fact, all over that busy suburban side of town—and Canada geese everywhere—in parking lots at the malls and stores, on the sidewalks, in yards, sitting on rooftops, flying this way and that all day long. Come spring, there were thousands of little goslings following their parents across lawns, and into landscape ponds. I have seen many broods of well over a dozen young. But I also know that if a parent gets killed by a car or caught by a dog, often another pair of geese will adopt. So that's also a possible explanation—although there didn't appear to be any size/age difference in these, and goslings grow fast; even a few days would have made a visible difference, I think—and I often saw this at the other place. So, I don't know the story for sure.

VioletSky said...

Amazing family!
It would be hard to get all of them in a row in a clear shot, so you did very well.
I have seen groups of 12-15 or so goslings, but there are always lots of other adults around so it is hard to tell just who they belong to. I wonder if they have a co-parenting thing going on?

Bonnie, Original Art Studio said...

We've been told we anthropomorphize - and I suppose we humans do at times - but we who pay attention have seen the care and sacrifice that these amazing 'critters' offer their young. And, in reading a couple of your other responses, they care to the extent that they adopt! If only we could follow their examples of devotion, loyalty and sacrifice the world would be a much better place.

I can't wait to have my two little granddaughters drop by so that I can show them your picture. That has to be a better 'catch' than a fish at the end of a line ... but what do I know ... I'm not a fisherman (or woman)!

Good night - I'm off for another peek at your little gaggle of geese.

Bonnie, Original Art Studio said...

Guess the word 'capture' is what is used with regard to photography and not the word 'catch' ... but 'capture' didn't work to reference your love of fishing ... Anyway, I hope you deciphered what I was so awkwardly trying to say. :-)

Bernie said...

Oh my gosh Grizz that last photo is more than beautiful. What a family, I love it. I am so happy that you and your ladylove were able to see such a beautiful thing. I love it......Hugs

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

VioletSky…

I'm not sure what the story was here—but these geese seemed to be isolated from any others, in a canal in a corner of the lake that would have been a long paddle away from the honking herd…upwards of a half-mile. So I don't think it was temporary deal, if they weren't all theirs. And they were just all the same size, like they'd been hatched out at the same time.

Whatever their history, I'm pretty sure they'd become a family unit. BTW, getting them in a row was pure luck; another moment later and I'd have been gone and missed the shot.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Bonnie…

I long ago ceased to be nearly as interested in the hard facts of things—the measurements, details, data—as I was the why and wherefore of its response in me and others. I want to know about something because it somehow moves me, triggers an emotion, fills a void, etc. Hard science has it place in understanding, but as a strict diet, it becomes pretty boring pretty quickly in nature writing, I think. I view living things as fellow creatures. If I anthropomorphize—and I do—it's because I don't wish to experience only as an observer. Where's the delight? The wonder? The joy? And in turn, I try to share and express these same feelings in my photos and prose. (Not saying it's the only way, or even the right way…but it's my way.)

As to your other comment…"catching" a fish is not the same as making a photo; not necessarily better, but certainly different—and different with different fish.

Also—and this is not a response to your comment so much as a statement of personal philosophy—I know a lot of photographers shooting digital refer to what they do as "capturing" images; it's part of the jargon used to distinguish themselves from film shooters, an argot to hopefully convey a degree of mastery of new technology. Me, I'm perfectly comfortable remaining old school. I don't "take" (swipe? steal?) pictures, nor do I "capture" (trap? apprehend?) pictures…I "make" (compose? create?) pictures. It's not fancy or new, but I like the sound a whole lot more. :-)

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Bernie…

I'm glad you like the photo—along with everyone else, apparently. And really glad I hung around long enough to make it—which I almost didn't. But most of all, I'm glad I could share something so appealing. It was a special scene, a special moment. Thank you for your nice comment.

A said...

Oh they look cute but up here in Toronto we know the other side of Canada geese-they will devour every stitch of grass from our parklands leaving them covered in poop.The shoreline bacteria count staggering.Some municipalities have taken to switching their eggs with plastic ones to control the overpopulation.Sorry cute pic of one family but hope you don't have 21 more families on your front lawn next year.

Jayne said...

Adorable... and amazing indeed! That is parental control now!

Kelly said...

What a beautiful sight!!! I'd love to look out and see a mama and papa with 21 goslings! I've read that geese willingly accept and adopt non-related goslings. Maybe that's what's going on here. The last photo with the long parade of babies is adorable!

Paul C said...

Flotilla is right. Charming picture. The description of animated yellow tennis balls with webbed feet...funny! (The engaging Bonnie sent me.)

Jazz said...

21 ?!?! Whoa. Talk about exerting control. Maybe they have something to teach us...

George said...

What can I say that hasn't already been said? The posting was full of charm and the last photo terrific! Twenty-one children on a family outing? Now that would require a heightened state of Zen to endure.

Brian Miller said...

smiles. boy they have a big fam! great snaps. and bonnie said to tell you 'hi'...have a great one...

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

A…

[I am a goose champion; I love Canada geese…and in fact, consider them my totem animal. Watching a string of geese cleave a sunset sky, and hearing them call to one another, is one of the most stirring experiences I know—absolutely spiritual. So keep this prejudice in mind…]

Keep in mind…it isn't "your" shoreline, nor are those tiny island-like bits of tidied-up and well-groomed nature you now call parks. The geese were there long before Europeans, lusting for the wealth of a new land's riches, arrived. It isn't the fault of the geese that you've paved over every patch of soil within a hundred mile radius. Cities many-million in population probably shouldn't cast stones from their cancerous blight.

I can remember when Canada geese were a rarity; in fact, there was fear they might even go extinct. Seeing a string of birds go over in the spring or fall was newsworthy enough to make the papers. Refuges were created. Folks interested in birds and wildlife would drive hundreds of miles just to get a close-up glimpse of these magnificent creatures. If a pair of geese settled on a local lake to build a nest and raise a family, local residents counted themselves uncommonly blessed.

Then in the Sixties, cheap money led to reurbanization. Cities leveled their fine old buildings and replaced them with ugly structures of glass and steel. Crime rates began to soar. No one wanted to live there any more, so they began fleeing to the country like rats from a sinking ship…except they didn't want to live in the country, either. The country had all that "wasted" space full of grass and woods and streams with water pure enough to support life. So the world of the SUV-driving surburbanite was created—along with strip malls and fast-food jungles and big-box stores the size of small countries. You could live comfortably, commute into the city if you had to to work, and let it rot the rest of the time. This ate up vast chunks of prime natural land. And the farmers you'd displaced could just move on out there somewhere—waaaaaay out there, out of sight and smell; you'd buy your grapes and apples from another country, have 'em imported, never mind the energy footprint. You'd rather merrily separate your trash into various recycling bins and feel good about "helping to keep the planet green."

But at about the same time, Canada geese apparently looked around, noted all the golf courses with their landscape ponds, and condos with their landscape ponds, and shopping malls with their landscape ponds, and highways with their landscape ponds and landscaped ditches—and they said to themselves, "This is good. Let us go forth and multiply."

And so it came to pass that the mighty Canada goose triumphed over mankind's fouling of the once-beautiful land. Score one for the birds.

P.S. Sorry about the goose poop. Better watch your step.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Jayne…

Unbelievable parental control—unless you're the parents of 21 well-behaved goslings. :-)

Jenn Jilks said...

Aren't they hard to photograph?!
It's all about discipline! I remember taking 21 students on a field trip. The parent volunteer backed out. I had those kids lined up behind me, all in pairs. I had so much fun that day. We were in a museum and the kids were excellent. I would take them to a new exhibit, then after enough time had passed say 'OK, in line in 10-9-8...) while losing my eyes. They rose to my expectations. Great photo.
I managed to video the ducklings - all over the place, after the bugs in the bushes. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BzGQAAxJJRQ So cute!

Sandra said...

Hi there, I came over from Bonnie's blog. Love the photos and the sentiment. I have to say I liked best of all the response to 'goose over-population'.

Sarah said...

Oh oh oh oh that is too cute! Bonnie sent me your way..so glad I came! That does seem like alot of little webbed feet for one clutch...wow! Being a preschool teacher and mainl of two year olds..I do kinda undstand this..but 21 of my own...yeah not so much. wonderful delightful post!! Thank you for sharing!!
Namaste, Sarah

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Kelly…

It could, indeed, be a case of adoption. I've observed that any number of times among the geese where I used to live. But often there was a discernible size difference in the goslings; here, I saw none, which only means they hatched around the same time, perhaps within a day or two.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Jazz…

They could sure teach us a thing or two about kid control!

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Paul C…

Glad you liked the description. That's what I always think when I see goslings bouncing and bobbing…animated yellow tennis balls with webbed feet. (With ducklings, it's more like ping-pong balls.)

Bonnie is great! I'll have to thank her for pointing folks toward the riverbank. Hope you enjoyed your visit here. You're always welcome.

Carolyn H said...

Griz: Whoa, Nellie! That's the biggest brood of geese or anything that I've ever seen. Good luck to those poor parents!

Carolyn H

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

George…

Either a heightened state of Zen , or a liberal application of strong drink! :-)

Thank you, really.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Brian…

Glad to have you visit anytime.

And glad you got a kick out of the goose photos. Thanks for visiting and commenting.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Jenn…

They are big and slow and rather obvious…but they are, at least sometimes, surprisingly hard (for me, anyway) to photograph. This 23-strong family was a challenge mostly because of the misting rain and low light—and because I can seldom remember to boost the ISO.

When my daughter was in school, I drove on all field trips and had my gaggle of kids to watch and lead. It was always funny—these mothers would be having all sorts of problems with their groups, and I'd have mine marching and orderly like little troopers because I laughed, carried on, and had as much fun as any kid did, and simply laid down the law beforehand: mind me and we'll have a blast; don't mind and you'll be riding with one of the women who won't allow you to even giggle. Your choice. A short leash when they were on the leash; no leash when they didn't need one. And having fun was more important than anything else.

Wouldn't have wanted to do it every day, though…

becky said...

That's adorable!!!

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Sandra…

Well, I'm pleased you found your way to the riverbank—and even more glad you liked what you saw.

I happen to know "A." and like her, and so I thought I could get away with a sort of over-the-top response.

But it's all true. We humans drive things to the point of extinction, or screw up the land and natural order to the point of disaster, and then we clap our hands to our cheeks, say "OH MY!" and begin throwing sweat and money trying to fix our mess. The latest oil spill in the Gulf is a fine example of waiting until it's too late to become responsible for our actions; God only knows if this tragedy can ever be fixed, let alone how much it will cost, and how many decades it will take.

Yet there are plenty of folks who would say, "Who cares? It's only wildlife." We have to have oil so we can drive our SUVs from the suburbs to the cities because we have let our cities go to the point where we can't live in most of them any longer—or won't—and don't want to truly change our lifestyle.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Sarah…

Well I can think of having 21 kids to watch and raise, either—but geese seem to have no more problems with than number than they do 2 or 3 goslings.

Glad you dropped by and liked the post. Please know you're always welcome…

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Carolyn…

I don't know if I've ever seen this many before, either—but I've seen geese with well over a dozen goslings countless times. They didn't appear to be having any problems, though. Just one big happy family.

Rusty said...

Wonderful observation. I have seen something very similar when the mother raccoon starts taking her kits out to teach them the ropes. It's quite fantastic to watch. ATB!

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Becky…

Yup…plumb adorable! And photogenic.

:-D

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Rusty…

I've seen those family groups of raccoons, too…though I have to say the youngsters are a bit more curious and prone to getting into things along the way.

However, can you just imagine 21 young raccoons? Wow, now that would be something to see!

A said...

It is always good to get the blood all boiled up it reminds us we are still alive and kicking....

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

A.…

Ha! I was just having some fun "defending" my geese. Not in the least upset. Figured by now you knew me good enough to understand—and thus I'd be able to get away unscathed.

Anyway, I've seen your paintings and recognized that wonderful artist's eye and talent that infuses your work—and I know how much you appreciate nature. Probably even geese, if truth be known….

Pat said...

Adorable, just adorable! And I love how geese talk to each other by just a flick of their beaks. Very interesting to watch. Great photos!

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Pat…

Thank you. I love geese, too…and always have. You might like this post which I did some time back" ; BEGUILED BY GEESE; JANUARY 26, 2009; (http://riverdaze.blogspot.com/2009/01/beguiled-by-geese.html)

Von said...

Yes it is a big brood, suggest someone else was laying in their nest and this Mum got to be No 1.While it all looks easy for geese and they are remarkable parents, if a gosling gets into trouble they can't fix, they abandon it immediately.
Great photos and I'd like to post a link.

Von said...

PS you might like to check out http://liz-livethegoodlife.blogspot.com
for more geese!

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Von…

You could very well be right. The truth is, I simply don't know the story. Though I have, as I've mentioned elsewhere, on many occasions seen Canada geese with broods of well over a dozen. And the texts say hatchings exceeding twenty goslings have been reported.

Also, as is true with the parents of most wild things, attention and energy is paid to that which can be helped. Not an approach of coldness, just practicality. Sort of a natural application of the Serenity prayer: God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things that I can; and the wisdom to know the difference.

Hey, I did check out that link (http://liz-livethegoodlife.blogspot.com) and I'm grateful, and moreover found the post—and blog—one I'll be keeping up with. I like those two gray geese, too! If I had the place to do it, I'd keep a few geese.

Finally, feel free to link. And feel free to visit the riverbank and comment any time; you're always welcome.

Brenda said...

Hi Grizz,

What a treat to click on your blog this morning and see the fun and fuzzy goose family out for a swim! There are preschoolers at the school where I work and sometimes I look out my window and see them holding on to a rope as they make their way down the sidewalk to the library next door. One teacher leads and her classroom aide anchors the end of the rope line. The geese seem to have an instinctive "rope" as they make their way around the river.

Thanks for sharing these great pictures!

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Brenda…

Ha! I love this observation as I've had the same thought. A friend of mine used to have his office just up the street from a pre-school. The school's play area was about a half-block away, and the teacher and her assistant did the same thing—had each youngster hold onto a rope and led them along the sidewalk in a linear group. In my case, I'd seen strings of young duckling many time while out fishing—so I always thought they looked like a duckling string every time I saw the kids. And the thought always amused me. I had the same thought while photographing and watching these goslings.

You're right…young ducks and geese do have their own instinctive "string."

Glad you got a kick out of the post.

Dheeraj said...

Nice Shot!! Loved it

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Dheeraj…

Thank you. Glad you liked the photo. Those geese were really cute…but I got lucky with the shot.