Geeses! In my yard!

Sunday, June 22nd, 2014

2014-06-21 - Geese - 0001 [flickr]

2014-06-21 - Geese - 0004 [flickr]

At the beginning of the spring season, we had four different groups of geese descend upon our pond: three pairs and a trio. For awhile, it was like an episode of Melrose Place down there, as they defended their different corners of the pond, drove away intruders (including a hapless pair of teeny little ducks who were forever being picked on by all nine geese), and vied for the prime spots.

This amount of bird activity isn’t unusual for us (for that, see the great pelican swarm of ’14) – except that all four groups of geese decided to stay, even though only one of the pairs had goslings. Oddly enough, as spring turned into summer, the four groups seemed to merge into one large flock. Now they’re just one ginormous family of fifteen.

They stay pretty well hidden when they’re in or around the pond, what with all the greenery, but at varying intervals during the day they waddle on up into the front yard to eat. I love to watch ’em, but they’re exceedingly cautious and often flee even if I’m only spying on them from inside the house.

The two photos at the top of this post were taken from the bedroom window – not to shabby considering they’re through the window screens.

I tried sneaking out the front door for a better shot but they am-scrayed before I could even shut the door. I love Flash Gordon there in the top photo, third from left.

2014-06-21 - Geese - 0005 [flickr]

2014-06-21 - Geese - 0008 [flickr]

(Click on the photos to zoom in.)

furkid friday: happy mother’s day

Friday, May 6th, 2011

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Scenes of compassion, consideration and love from my own life.
Counterclockwise, from top-left: the family of geese who shared “my” pond last year,
and who have returned again this season (no goslings yet though!);
my sister Michelle and brother Mike cuddle and comfort our canine sibling Shadow
shortly after surgery to repair her shattered back leg;
Ralphie and I share a moment during a sentimental visit to
our old neighborhood in Fairport, NY; and
a mother cow licks her baby clean.
Sadly, both were the property of our former landlords, and are most likely ground beef by now. It was a privilege to live next to such lovely creatures – but one constantly clouded by sadness and despair, given their near-certain fate. The knowing can be painful; but the not knowing is far, far worse. Go vegan, for you and for them.
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One does not need to be human to feel the deep-seated instinct to protect her babies, to seek the warmth of one’s mother. When animal advocates point out the obvious – that mothers and their babies suffer profoundly when they are separated, that harming one’s baby causes emotional trauma to the mother – we are accused of anthropomorphizing. We are portrayed as having centers as squishy as marshmallows, as having naive, sentimental, childish minds. In fact, it is a cold biological imperative, not just an emotional one, that drives a mother to want to nurture and protect her young: entire species would be wiped out if not for a mother’s instinct to defend her babies. I think, though, that it’s highly arrogant and self-serving to presume that humans alone have an emotional stake in their babies’ livelihoods. […]

One also doesn’t need to be a mother to be deeply driven to protect another. Long before I ever had a baby, I felt the same kind of adrenaline surge when someone intentionally whipped a hard rubber ball at my dog as I would have if he had done that same thing years later to my son. I chased that guy down the beach, screaming at him, and he ran away as if his life depended on it. Maybe it did. I’m a non-violent person, but you don’t mess with the ones I love.

For Mother’s Day, I propose that we honor this natural drive within all of us to protect the ones we love, the ones who depend on our consideration, by not consuming the products of exploitation and cruelty. This common thread of wanting our babies to thrive is natural and noble, a key part of our essential being. Whether we are men or women, children or adults, human or hen, that universal mother is in all of us. Let’s celebrate without exploiting another innocent mother who had not only the autonomy of her body but also her babies stolen from her for our appetites. Let’s connect to that profound mothering spirit that links us together. She wants her babies to be well and protected from harm. I think we can understand.

Happy Mother’s Day to everyone.

….with extra special hugs and kisses (and a few odd few bitter tears) to Miss Kaylee, of course.*

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* Usually I stick with the status-neutral “Ms.,” but Kaylee prefers “Miss.” It makes her feel young, yo!

** The quote is excerpted from The Universal Mother… by Marla Rose, the one and only Vegan Feminist Agitator. Read and share, please and thanks.

rebirth

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011

2010-05-01 - Geese & Goslings - 0054 [flickr - cropped]

Two geese, swimming in the pond, waddling through the pastures. I’ve been watching them all week. At least one week, possible two. Watching, wondering, revering, daydreaming. Could it possibly be the same pair from last year? The same mother and father who built a home within a stone’s throw of our own, nesting and laying and incubating, eventually welcoming their children into this cruel and beautiful and remarkable world in the relative safety of our pond and its shores, teaching them to fly, swim, graze and live?

Have the birds I fell so in love with last year returned?

Ducks Unlimited (ugh, I know, it was the first useful result to come up!) suggests yes:

When do they breed?

Generally speaking, Canada geese do not breed until they are two or three years of age. Breeding takes place earlier in the year than it does for most birds so that their young hatch right when the plant food they need is in its prime.

When it comes time to choose a nesting site to lay the eggs, the female always returns to the same area where her parents nested. While there are exceptions, females will usually return to the same nesting area every year.

Do Canada geese form families?

The Canada goose is a very family-oriented bird. Usually in their second year of life, Canada geese find a mate and stay together for life. However, if one mate dies, the other will re-mate.

Breeding takes place earlier in the year, with nesting usually happening from late March to early May. Once the eggs are laid, the female incubates them until they hatch around 28 days later.

During the nesting and incubation period, the male stays near the nest and keeps a close eye on the female and the eggs. If a predator should threaten them, the male will attempt to protect the nest by luring the predator away.

Wherever they are, I hope they’ve survived. The babies, too. And maybe I’ll be lucky enough to witness the birth of another generation again this spring. ‘Twas by far the highlight of the season.

WaPo: Boys Continue Stoning Geese to Death; Ask Police to Investigate

Friday, April 3rd, 2009

Via Animal Advocacy:

Boys Continue Stoning Geese to Death; Ask Police to Investigate

The Washington Post reported that boys are stoning nesting geese to death in a park in Springfield, Virginia (Fairfax County). (source)

Please contact the Fairfax County Police and ask them to assign a detective to this case. Mention that these animal abusers are exhibiting severe psychiatric disorders and the FBI has found they often progress to crimes against humans. Make your request online here.

For ideas to include in your request, you may want to reference information found here.*

The letter is short, but heartbreaking:

Senseless Violence in Springfield

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A Canada goose guards his mate’s body at a pond in Springfield.
(Courtesy Of Tom Norato; photo via The Washington Post)

There is a pond near a bike path between the Franconia-Springfield Metro Station and the Greenwood Community in Springfield. Each year, Canada geese arrive at the pond in the fall to nest and raise their families.

Recently, some young neighborhood boys have found a new hobby: They have been stoning the geese to death. Above is a photo of their latest prize and his mate, standing over the body. The goose has been standing vigil for many days now, waiting for her to join him. They mate for life, you know.

He wards off all other geese that come near, as if he were protecting her in a nest. Her final repose does give that illusion. I am beginning to worry that he may himself expire for lack of nourishment, and I had thought of removing the body in the hopes that he might move on. But then I thought I’d just be making things worse. I have a tendency to think that his reactions are instinct and just nature’s way.

But nature didn’t cause this.

Perhaps the boys who did this will see this picture and reflect on what they have done. Perhaps not.

— Tom Norato, Springfield

While this instance of animal abuse is characterized as “senseless violence,” it’s no more (less?) senseless than slaughtering billions of animals for food annually, when a pant-based diet will do. Nor are geese the only non-human animals who feel grief and sorrow, or form deep family and social ties.

Just…remember that, before you start decrying the sociopathy of today’s youths. They’ve got to learn it somewhere, right?

(More below the fold…)

More human than (the) human(s).

Monday, October 20th, 2008

In The New York Times, “Farm Boy” Nicholas Kristof “Reflects” on time spent murdering innocent, sentient beings:

Then there were the geese, the most admirable creatures I’ve ever met. We raised Chinese white geese, a common breed, and they have distinctive personalities. They mate for life and adhere to family values that would shame most of those who dine on them.

While one of our geese was sitting on her eggs, her gander would go out foraging for food—and if he found some delicacy, he would rush back to give it to his mate. Sometimes I would offer males a dish of corn to fatten them up—but it was impossible, for they would take it all home to their true loves.

Once a month or so, we would slaughter the geese. When I was 10 years old, my job was to lock the geese in the barn and then rush and grab one. Then I would take it out and hold it by its wings on the chopping block while my Dad or someone else swung the ax.

The 150 geese knew that something dreadful was happening and would cower in a far corner of the barn, and run away in terror as I approached. Then I would grab one and carry it away as it screeched and struggled in my arms.

Very often, one goose would bravely step away from the panicked flock and walk tremulously toward me. It would be the mate of the one I had caught, male or female, and it would step right up to me, protesting pitifully. It would be frightened out of its wits, but still determined to stand with and comfort its lover.

He goes on to say,

So, yes, I eat meat (even, hesitantly, goose). But I draw the line at animals being raised in cruel conditions.

How very generous of you, Mr. Kristof.

(More below the fold…)

Celebrating Mothers of all stripes.

Sunday, May 11th, 2008

Saluting Animal Moms on Mother’s Day

According to writer Anne Morrow Lindbergh, the trials of motherhood make moms the great vacationless class. Although she may have been talking about the human variety—the moms who are near and dear to us—other animals show the same tireless dedication to their children. PETA hopes that this Mother’s Day, while you are praising your family’s matriarch, you’ll also remember that some of the best moms in the world are found in the animal kingdom.

Northern Fur Seals

Human mothers tuned in to Channel Mom may find themselves responding to anybody’s child when they hear someone calling the M word, but fur seals never make this mistake. Fresh from foraging for food, moms have to find their young quickly in a sea of hundreds—or possibly thousands—of seals, so both mother and pup depend on their uncanny powers of vocal recognition to find one another. Both will call out and answer, responding selectively to one another until they are reunited.

(More below the fold…)

Belated Mother’s Day wishes, to Kaylee with love.

Monday, May 14th, 2007

Kaylee the dog, that is.

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Miss Kaylee is the only one of my three girls who’s birthed a litter.

Several, actually, judging from the size of those nips:

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In fact, when we first adopted her and Jayne, we (well, the rescue group) thought that they were a mother-daughter pair.

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I highly doubt it, though.

No, I can only wonder where her puppies are; what they look like (and if any of them have her snaggle teeth!), whether any of them managed to stay together, if they’re even still alive. I hope they were all adopted into good homes, and that their families love and adore them as much as we do Kaylee. Above all else, I hope they’re free from the abuse and exploitation that Kaylee and Jayne endured before they found us.

To Kaylee and all the other sweeties out there, Happy Mother’s Day.

Photo via Matt McGee

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