Geese are easy to dislike. They are noisy, messy, devoid of concern for the property of others, and are often combative. They swim where they like, walk where they want, and shit where they very well please. In short, they are much like human teenagers.
Many people I know have a goose story or two to tell. I have a few myself, especially after living near a pond for the past year or so. The pond is not large and so won’t support a large quantity of big birds, but it is sufficient for the current semi-permanent residents – a mated male and female and their three goslings. We’ve been watching this family swim together, dine together, and piss off our neighbors together for weeks now. They’re very interesting to observe. Their behavior as a family, like some of their attributes listed above, bring to mind the behavior of humans. Strong, protective parents and, at least to this point, dependent and submissive children. The children are getting big now, though, and we expect to see more and more independent behavior.
We watch the parents react when other geese land in the water close to them, or when other large aquatic birds venture within a certain distance. The adults react quickly, stretching their lowering necks out toward the unwelcome visitors and hissing, then approaching them menacingly. It’s enough to scare me off, I’ll tell you.
Our goose family has been able to keep nearly all other geese out of this pond since they selected it for habitation a couple of months ago. Every now and then, a stray goose or two will dive in and get cozy, then wander about a bit. Their curiosity always gets the best of them, and they make their way toward our geese. That sets off the territorial behavior of the adults. Invariably, the foreigners back off and eventually fly away, convinced that the pond is owned by those most unfriendly residents.
I know that many people object to the presence of geese because of their bountiful fecal output. Yes, they crap in places they shouldn’t. Yes, it’s not pleasant to have to pick your way through it on your way to the mailbox. But, for chrissake, the stuff is green! Just look at it. How can anything that green be anything but good for you! Green is good. Not only that, but it’s full of fiber and other natural substances. Most of the turds look like something you might find individually wrapped and stapled to a cardboard display in the snack section of your local health food store.
Some of the droppings don’t look like turds at all, however, more closely resembling something that squirted out of the rectum of a very sick individual. I don’t know what causes such things, but I think I know how the geese who leave that sort of deposit must feel. Not good.
No, I haven’t taken pictures of the various forms of goose shit to display here. I have other things to do that take precedence. But perhaps if I did, you’d better understand (if you don’t already) that most goose shit doesn’t look bad. It’s just not something you want to get real close to.
So I understand why some of my neighbors chase the geese out of their yards. And I understand also why some of them throw rocks at the geese. But I don’t quite get why the rock throwing continues (by people in their fifties and sixties) after the geese have swum out to the center of the pond. There seems to be only one plausible explanation for this – hatred. I have to admit that there are some people I dislike enough that I’ve had the urge to throw rocks at as they retreat. Do I? No. Why? Because I would get into trouble. Do old people throwing rocks at geese a half pond away get in trouble?
I’ll let you answer that one.
I have no idea how long our goose family will be residing in our pond, but, according to experts, the young will stay with the parents until spring. By then, the youngsters should exhibit behavior so much like that of humans that their parents will be more than happy to see them hit the road, or, more precisely, the sky.
And by then, most of the stray rocks in our neighborhood will lie on the bottom of the pond.