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The Canada Geese are packing to go

Last week I was walking to work and there seemed to be more than the average number of crows around. I like crows, with their clever ways and beady eyes, and I thought to myself “Crows are my favourite birds.”

But the moment after I thought that, I saw two nuthatches.

“No wait!” I said to myself, “Nuthatches are my favourite birds.” I’ve never seen a nuthatch in the city before, but I had some up at my place near Wakefield. I like the way they run head-first down trees and the fact that they mate for life – two things I’ve never quite mastered myself.

I love the little chickadees too, with their buzzy little voices and their black caps and their friendly personalities. And I like the way evening grosbeaks come in huge flocks and just stay for a couple of days and make such efficient use of vertical space. And woodpeckers and tanagers and goldfinches and owls and cardinals – I like them too.

Canada Geese in V FormationBut most of all I love Canada Geese. I feel an affinity for them, a special connection. Maybe it’s because of the time I almost died trying to save their lives. Or maybe it’s because of that poem, Something Told the Wild Geese, which I copied for the Carp Fair’s Handwriting Contest, which I lost to the girl with no arms. Or maybe it’s because of the time I was able to convince the ever-skeptical Orley that hummingbirds migrate south on the backs of Canada Geese.

Wherever it comes from, I do feel a connection to Canada Geese. And when I see them flying in V-formation, my heart gets a little bit bigger for a minute or two. (I imagine it’s the same way Americans feel when they see their flag, but without the element of propaganda.) I always stop what I’m doing and stand rooted in my tracks, watching with my slightly-bigger heart beating in my chest. It’s an awesome sight. (I wish that last generation hadn’t forever ruined the word awesome. It used to be such an awesome word.)

Canada Geese in flightJust so you know, I don’t feel that same affinity for Canada Geese when they’re on the ground – it’s hard to feel that way when you’re picking your way through their impressively large and slippery droppings.

Canada Geese are better here in Carlington than they were in Chinatown/Lebreton Flats. There were clusters of them on the bike path down by the river and also on the running track outside the War Museum. I used to run through them (and their droppings) early in the morning. I didn’t often seem them in flight.

Canada Geese over my houseBut here in Carlington they’ve got the Experimental Farm, and they fly around the neighbourhood. I wasn’t here last year at this time, so I didn’t realize until now that this was a prime Canada Goose gathering spot.

There’s been a lot of activity the last few days, but I don’t think it’s flocks leaving just yet – I think it’s small flocks consolidating into larger flocks, in preparation for the exodus. And I think maybe they go out on preparatory strength-training flights. (You can’t just fly to Florida when you’ve spent all summer waddling around the War Museum, you know.)

Anyway, I love that they fly low over my house every morning, honking. I don’t feel as melancholy as usual about them this Fall, because I feel like I’m in the thick of their preparatory activity. I’m part of it! I’m in the Zone!

(I think I’m really going to miss them when they’re gone though.)

4 comments to The Canada Geese are packing to go

  • I love this post. I love the geese and we were just saying this afternoon how privileged we are to be under the fly-way for these wonderful birds. Yes there’s a lot of poop but people also feed them who shouldn’t so that encourages the concentration of poop. Just leave them alone to be birds and thrill to the honking of their passing overhead. What a lovely planet we live on.

  • Nice shootin’, Tex. Groovy photos.

    I live near the river and when the geese make a fly-past I always wish I had my camera to aim upwards. Sometimes it’s too bulky and awkward to carry on my person. Mind you, I curse their blasted feathered hides every morning at sunrise when they squawk me from my slumber. Them and those darned crows. And don’t get me started on the other early-birds, the friggin’ gulls.

    My apologies to you, dear bird lover.

    Me old pappy used to say, “Lord love a god-damn duck!” It was his multi-purpose curse. Right up there with, “Jumped up Jesus on roller skates!”

    But I digress.

    So I’ll enjoy the god-damned ducks, lord love ’em. And the sparrows, swallows, the occasional purple martin, and even the starlings and grackles. I’ll enjoy their more-or-less quietude.

    I am for the birds but there’s no harm in being somewhat selective, hmm?

    I enjoy your web log, nice lady. Keep up this good thing, oh please!


  • Patrick, welcome to my blog – and thanks for the early morning laugh.