Tuesday, 29 September 2015

What I Know About the Canada Goose

I'll try to restrict my remarks to what I have observed about one goose, Angel (pronounced like the Spanish, an-hell), who for convenience I will assume is male.
Angel, who loves apples, will pull one from a tree if he can. Given a bill not designed to eat an apple, Angel will apply his neck to approaching the fruit from every angle, often resulting in a comical sequence of nudging pursuit of the apple around the lawn.
Rain or shine doesn't make much difference to Angel, who practices the same range of behaviours in either case.
Angel remains wary of me. Good.
Angel is a strong walker and runner if need be.
Angel's webbed feet provide poor traction on the concrete lip of a pond. Often he has to fly out of the water.
Angel standing with neck extended straight up signals he's about to take off. Eight or so flapping steps, neck extended straight ahead he's airborne, feet dangling for a few beats before he tucks them in. If necessary, Angel can leap into flight in an instant.
A hawk or owl passing overhead will make Angel and his mates scatter in a hurry. If they can, they'll head for water.
Angel likes to chase and be chased in brief episodes of territorial or mood imperative accompanied by fearsome open-billed hissing. Lasting only a few steps, the chase sometimes results in the chasee taking flight. This behaviour will spook a deer if one's around.
Angel on one leg--the other extended straight back, web up--can still preen, look around, tear at grass, air out his wings.
Angel is a powerful preener who can reach even the anterior base of his own neck with his bill. Sometimes he'll look up mid-preen with a feather caught on the serrated edge of his bill. He might walk around that way.
The horizontal range of motion of Angel's tailfeathers is about thirty degrees from centre. Landing from flight or emerging from water both call for a burst of tailfeather shake.
Angel goes somewhere else at night. By sundown, he's gone.
Angel's a powerful shitter, turds the size of my fingers. Pity the grey squirrel (Pepe, pronounced peep), who must find a patch of ground to dig a hole and bury food.
Even when Angel is just airing out his wings at the edge of the pond, or while swimming, they generate a mighty whump-whump-whump.
A goose can limp. Not Angel but some other goose. The limp costs him his ability to chase. He's smaller.
Angel landing needs a few quick steps to come to a stop. In water, he'll just flex his feet and splashdown. Capable of last-second adjustments in descent, Angel can swing under a low branch, and straighten up, almost hover, before the splash.
Head-pumping is Angel's way of saying I might have to get aggressive. 
Angel will mutter when approached.
Angel's a creature of great power, from the eyes on down.

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