110 W. New York Ave.
DeLand, FL 32720
By Lynn Bowen
posted Nov 4, 2013 - 6:43:40am
The “alpha” Canada goose ruled his flock with ease. He led the group of 15, who obediently followed. Time for a bath -- really? Yes! All of them went near the shore of the little lake and dunked, splashed, shook, fluttered for five minutes. Then it was time for lunch, and they all waddled on the grass, seeking and finding food.
The followers didn’t seem to resent being bossed. They knew they needed a leader! I watched all this as though it were a TV show while I visited Central Illinois recently.
Canada geese range in size from 3 to 10 pounds, depending on their food supply and where they reside. Most folks know their distinctive look of a bulky brown upper body with a cream chest and belly, and a black head and neck with a handsome white “chin strap.” The male and female look alike, but the female is slightly smaller.
Canada geese have large black webbed feet and fairly short legs. These birds range in size from 25 inches to 45 inches, with a wingspan of 43 inches to 60 inches. The farther north they live, the smaller they are. Many of the large ones live in Central Illinois and don’t bother to migrate to tundra weather. Grass, grain and berries are their main diet, and all are plentiful in Illinois.
These are social birds, except at nesting time when they want a little privacy from the crowds of their relatives. They mate for life and start breeding at 3 years of age. The female lays approximately five eggs that she incubates as her partner guards the nest.
Canada geese fly, swim or walk everywhere, and many people consider them to be pests. I understand this, but to me, they are just fun-loving birds to admire. They are messy when flocks of 15 or more live in a little area with a pond. One source wrote that 50 geese can produce 2.5 tons of excrement in one year. I don’t really know if this is true, but perhaps it is. Oh, oh, watch where you step! Canada geese live in most of North America anywhere near water, but seldom in Florida.
— Bowen lives in DeLand. Send email to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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