Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Why Geese are Smarter than People

Above- Shore park brant near sunset.

My local waterfowl spot in winter is Shore Park, a small grassy area with a playground that borders the long island sound on two sides. I have found 9 species of waterfowl there, including all three mergansers and a Black Duck x Mallard hybrid.

So I was slightly worried when I saw the column in the local paper claiming victory in the war against the geese. There are large flocks of canada geese and brant that reside at the park, and most people (birders excluded) don't like them. True, the grass is constantly covered in droppings, and I can see how people might not want that, so the efforts were probably justified. The town bought some sort of lightbulb thing that was installed at knee-height, and is supposed to look like light reflecting off the eyes of a predator. This would make the geese uncomfortable, and they would not sleep there.

I was a bit concerned that the light would drive off all the other waterfowl too, which would make a waterfowl spot somewhat useless (the whole lack of waterfowl thing). I shouldn't have worried.

The first time I biked down this winter, it seemed as though the light was working. That didn't hurt the birding any though. Shore park was completely goose free, but the neighboring yard was covered in geese. I bet the people who owned that house were a lot less amused by that than I was.

The second time I checked, it seemed as though the town was wrong. The park did not actually have any geese on it (they were in the water), but it was again covered in droppings.

I have to look again sometime, but it seem like the geese have the upper hand here.

An imagined converstion between two geese:

Goose 1- Hey, that coyote still hasn't moved.
Goose 2- Yeah, its been in that exact same spot for 3 months.
Goose 1- Pretty stupid coyote. You think it's dead?
Goose 2- Maybe. Lets check it out.
Goose 1- Wait! That's a light! Not a coyote.
Goose 2- Wow. You mean we've been avoiding that place for months because of a light?
Goose 1- Well, at least it's not a coyote. We can go back there now.
Goose 2- Nice.

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