Canada Goose: 'King of the Pond'
By Lynn Bowen
By Lynn Bowen
The "king" Canada goose ruled his small kingdom strictly and fairly, and made his dominance known. This was the scene I witnessed during my annual trip to visit relatives in Central Illinois in April.
About 20 geese were residing at a small man-made pond on half an acre next to a car dealership, very near a busy street. One would expect to see this in the woods, but these hardy birds don't mind city life as long as a beautiful pond awaits them.
Since grain is the main part of Canada geese's diet, Illinois, with its magnificent bean and corn fields, attracts the birds. They also enjoy roots of rushes, weeds, grasses, seeds and berries.
It was mid-morning and just chilly enough for me to need a sweater. The friendly sun shone brightly that day as I strolled around the mini-lake. The geese were basking in the sunbeams.
Then one aggressive goose walked up to me, stopped about four feet away and vocalized an odd honk. He was handsome in his glossy tan cloak and regal black neck ascot. He seemed to be requesting a snack, so I knelt and quietly told him that I didn't have one.
Now I'm not positive what his honks meant any more than he knew what I was saying, but we communicated anyway. (If men are from Mars and women are from Venus, then wildlife is from Jupiter -- we all have trouble understanding one another!)
Suddenly a commotion erupted on the far side of the pond. Two geese were arguing. The king turned his head, sized up the situation, flew from near me to the water's edge on the other side and broke up the fight. He flew back to confront me once again with his assertive honks.
About 10 geese lined the shore on two sides of the pond and none dared to copy the king's actions. Some stood silently quite close to where I was, but the feathered ruler with the invisible crown reigned over the pond. This was about a 10-minute scenario, and it blessed my day to once again enjoy the bird kingdom that ultimately intertwines with human lives.
Canada geese are from 25-45 inches long and have a wingspan of 45 to 60 inches. They have a distinguished white chin strap that makes them easy to identify. The colors of the body vary from pale to dark brown or gray and the neck length varies, as does the size. The weight is from 3 1/2 to nearly 10 pounds. These geese in Illinois looked to be on the large size.
Canada geese are famous for their large, orderly, V-formation flights and are especially memorable to me because of their friendly personality.