The flocks of Canada geese that arrive from the south to congregate on my pond in the spring generally disperse at nesting time. The many nearby marshes are inviting. However, a great many now seem to have decided that the pond suits them just fine and built nests where they landed.
The results are apparent as the geese lead their offspring out into the open pasture to graze, graze, graze. At first, they were small yellow balls struggling through the tall grasses. But this year’s grass seems to be extraordinarily nourishing. The goslings are almost half as big as their parents and starting to turn a darker, more grown up colour. With so much rain this spring, the verdure is thick and rich, easily supporting all the geese as well as all the cattle munching away at the other side of the field.
The goose parents also appear to have a day care arrangement to get a little time for themselves. One goose couple appeared to be in charge of about forty youngsters bunched around their feet while the rest of the field was dotted with goose pairs blissfully dining together free of young ones. Perhaps this is the goose equivalent of date night and may be much needed. Canada geese mate for life and can live around 25 years, staying together longer than a great many people. Marriages may need a spot of maintenance now and then.
The geese are very protective of their families. When out en masse, there is always at least one long necked sentinel keeping sharp vigil while the rest forage. They are oblivious to traffic unless a vehicle slows. Should a person appear, no matter how distant, they herd their charges back to the safety of the pond as fast as the youngsters can run. Until the babies can fly, they could make an easy lunch for foxes, coyotes and whatever else can move faster than little waddling feet.
Right now, though, they are all out in the pasture gobbling away, the goose version of ravenous growing teenagers who cannot be filled up no matter how many groceries are hauled home from the store. Luckily, the grass supply is endless and the goose population will get another substantial boost before migration time.