May 3, 2008

Wildlife weirdness

Yesterday I saw one of the strangest things in wildlife viewing I have ever seen. The Canada geese were doing their evening flyby (they turn left by a certain tree behind the greenhouse). Sometimes one will perch in that tree and act I suppose as a flagger for the rest--I hear the calling from the tree and soon others come in, following his call. That was weird enough. Geese don't have the kind of feet that cling to branches, but instead wide webbed flat feet, so I don't know how that one managed it.

But yesterday, there was much honking and squawking, all coming from one point high above the shop, and I stepped around the greenhouse for a look, and there were a pair in a cedar tree, with much flapping. Another pair came along a minute or so later and fairly bombed into them, shrieking the goose version of "This is Our Tree!", and after a cacophony of honking and wing flapping, the first pair erupted out of the tree, sounding like a flock of ruffed grouse. The 2nd pair stayed for a while and then flew on themselves. So now I have 4 Canada geese who perch in trees. I had thought the one lookout was an oddity, but with four, it must be a movement.

Update: Turns out this is not totally rare for the Pacific Northwest Canada goose (Branta canadensis)--sometimes they will nest in a disused Osprey or Bald Eagle nest, both of which are found locally. It helps them avoid ground predators such as raccoons or voles, common here as well. Still doesn't explain how they manage to hang onto the branches, however.


Betsy said...

I think you've got a front seat to evolution!! I love your stories. We have our pair of Rufous Hummingbirds and one green guy (calliope?) and I hear goose squawks but I never thought to look IN THE TREES! -Bets