Post 2/2021 Saturday 9 January . . . Canada geese are my main focus this week. Politics not, other than to note the soul-searching and accountability that must continue in the wake of both the chilling mob response at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, and that of people who know better, all with their election fraud falsehoods aimed at preventing or impeding the U.S. Congress from confirming President-Elect Joe Biden as winner of the November 3 election. Lord have mercy. Lord have mercy.
Public attitudes to Canada geese have shifted as they’ve increasingly adapted themselves to today’s environment. Notes Wikipedia: “Extremely adept at living in human-altered areas, Canada geese have established breeding colonies in urban and cultivated habitats, which provide food and few natural predators.”
Also: “The success of this common park species has led to its often being considered a pest species because of its excrement, its depredation of crops, its noise, its aggressive territorial behavior toward both humans and other animals, and its habit of begging for feed (caused by human hand feeding).”
Ah, the discussion we could have. I’d throw in a couple anecdotes of visiting the Jack Miner Bird Sanctuary at Kingsville, Ontario. Some years ago, I put a quarter in the dispenser and added a share of grain to the lunch for geese and ducks, probably penned for banding. Jack was known as “Wild Goose Jack,” a conservationist, lecturer and creator of one of North America’s first bird sanctuaries.
I have Eli Stoltzfus to thank for years ago telling me about a book by Jack Miner that he acquired while he and his wife, Paula, lived in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.
Look up Jack Miner (1865-1944) in The Canadian Encyclopedia. Here’s a quote: “He was the fifth of 10 children. Jack attended school for a total of three months, preferring instead to be outdoors, studying nature or working in his father’s brickyard. He was a shy child, self-conscious of his long red hair and freckled face.” In 1877, the family moved from Dover Center, Ohio to Kingsville, Ontario to be closer to his mother’s family.
The Canadian Encyclopedia: “He was one of the earliest to attach bands to the legs of migratory birds for scientific study of their habits. Over the course of his lifetime he banded over 90,000 ducks and Canada geese, often inscribing bits of biblical scripture on each band. His records of these birds and their migratory patterns helped persuade the Canadian government to ratify the Migratory Birds Convention Act in 1917 [updated in 1994].”
Our conversation would loop on, helpfully outlined in Wikipedia, hopefully moving beyond the negatives of excrement and nuisance to: Distribution and habitat in and outside North America; Behavior, including diet, reproduction, migration; Survival, predators, salinity, disease; Relationship with humans, aircraft strikes. cuisine, and Population (the latter in 2000 estimated to be between 4 million and 5 million birds).
In the conversation I’d note the film I saw a fair number of years ago of a pilot in an open air ultra light aircraft teaching a flock of Canada geese how to follow him in a migratory path to North Carolina. It was for real (might have been the 1996 film, Fly Away Home). Even though my memory of details is sketchy, I can still hear the buzz of the plane and the V-formation as the ultralight and wedge took to the sky.
Yes, there’s much fascinating detail to the story of Canada geese, even if not unavoidably needing to touch on dodging goose excrement on sidewalks and their roadblocking habits, not helped in the least by honking your car horn.
Is there any jealousy swirling about that migratory birds are free to take it or leave it while snowbirds are stuck at home? One point for Canada geese!
Scenes of the week
If you come across a recipe for Overnight Crock Pot Oatmeal, pay attention to the contributor’s statement: “I have not tried this recipe. I got this recipe from Pinchin Your Pennies.”
Briefly, the untried recipe mostly had the right ingredients: oats, water, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, apple, raisins or dates, chopped nuts.
Had I checked tried and true recipes, I’d have seen that this one lacked baking powder, cooking oil (or applesauce) and eggs. The result was okay, even if too mushy out of the pot and later just gelatinous. The cinnamon and nutmeg flavors shine through. Two servings remain in the fridge. When I eat it I add extra nuts and fruit. It’s not Marty’s favorite taste in breakfast. Experiments are good, even if the results are not always something to crow about.
I’m off for a coffee refill and a biscotti.
With public health measures so clear and easy to follow (and so, so thankful for the increasing availability of vaccines for Covid-19), and prayers for the nation and world, peace!