Saturday, July 15, 2006

Active Discrimination?

Well, I know it has been
awhile since I posted last but sometimes it is difficult to know exactly what to say. I believe last time I mentioned toward the end of my blog that Franklin B and Hannah were down to just 2 goslings now. I don't know what happened and of course I am just dying to know. What I do know is that for some reason, the other hybrids have been picking on Hannah and her babies--literally. Hannah looks terrible with feathers broken and sticking out all over, and Franklin has to be exhausted from trying to protect his remaining 2 active kids. This seems to be a long standing feud of sorts. There are 2 hybrids with one grown and 2 half grown kids, these are the ones that lured Frank and Hannah's firstborn with the abdominal wound into the lake and made sure he could not get up the shore again. They persistantly pick fights with Hannah and while others keep the parents busy, someone else goes after the two goslings. This is mean business. It is to the point where Franklin and his family do not come to eat when everyone else does, but later when he thinks the others aren't around.

All geese fiercely protect their young, but mostly it is against a perceived danger or threat--at least here on the lake it is so. But Franklin and Hannah DO have a very real
danger from the other hybrids. The female of this lead couple is constantly trying to lead the little white gosling off and I do believe she would have no qualms at all killing him. I am wondering if it is because Frank is the only all white goose on the lake that the hybrids
want to attack this little family unit?

At first it was a little amusing watching the new parents twirling around with their necks
outstretched and their heads down in the classic "goosing" position running off goose and duck alike. But now it is obvious that these two parents are desperate to find a place that is away from this gang of thugs. The lead three hybrids are just out and out mean. I saw one of
them pick one of the little ducks up by the neck and toss him aside. Ouch!

Of course I worry a lot about Franklin and Hannah and the 2 little ones. Afterall, just getting through the egg sitting and hatching was difficult. Now I must worry from a distance because staying in the bush outside my window was not an option after the first
hatchling got attacked. Sometimes they do not come for a day or two, and I think the absolute worst. Then, later in the evening or very early in the morning, I hear Franklin calling. His is a distinctive honk that he tones down when he is on the run. I will go out and get a bowl of corn chops for them to hurry up and eat. Ducks must have the
most acute hearing of all the waterfowl. Like dogs who can hear a cheese wrapper being touched from miles away, these ducks, I swear, can hear chopped corn in a bowl and come galloping over the shore for a bit of food.

I truly believe I went through the "empty nest" (pun intended) syndrome when the family moved. Out of 8 eggs, they have two babies. And they are growing at a rapid rate. The white gosling is a lot less yellow now and getting paler and paler. The little hybrid's markings are getting a little more defined. Geese grow rapidly. The family of Canada Geese had thirteen babies right when I moved in at the end of April and now they are as large as their parents and then some. They still have a little bit of fuzz on their necks, but they have wings with feathers now. They still have that muffled chirping sound, but they look quite beautiful with their new feathers.

The day after the holiday, the woods across the lake from me caught on fire. Oklahoma
is under burn bans all the time now with the persitant drought. Smoke came billowing out from the center part of the woods. Many of the Canada Geese and the ducks make their homes at night on the far shore. They were all out in the lake swimming aimlessly around while the fire department came and fortunately got the fire out before it spread much.
After awhile and after a good meal of corn chops, they all returned to their side of the lake ending the excitement for this 4th of July.

I have not heard how Chester is doing. He is the Canada Goose my neighbor and I caught to try to remove fishing line from around his thigh. It was too deeply imbedded for us so I took him downto the Wild Care Sanctuary. Such a great place. They were worried he might lose his leg but if he didn't, he might be able to come back to the lake since his mate and family are here. Keep your fingers crossed.

Until next time.

(originally published 7/10/06)


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