Canada Geese quietly explore the Wildlife Pond at Wachusett Meadow.
A windy day and choppy water couldn’t stop these Hooded Mergansers.
Canada Geese goslings explore both open water and pond edge environments under the watchful eyes of their parents.
Canada Geese are often seen near beaver lodges in the early Spring. The activity of the beavers leads to earlier thawing of the ice, providing the geese with a welcome habitat and food resources. This is an example of a symbiotic relationship in nature.
-Wachusett Meadow Audubon, Princeton, MA
A few days ago, I highlighted a beautiful Canada goose I named Nike in honor of its incredible wings. Yesterday, I was able to consider in more depth features of this prevalent New England bird.
Canada geese arrive at this pond at the Wachusett Meadow Audubon Sanctuary in early Spring and raise families before leaving in the Fall. Likeable and easy-going, they are comfortable co-existing with human visitors. I was able to easily photograph their famed “goose necks”, intricate layers of feathers, startling dark eyes, and bills that are perfectly attuned to their habitat. Because of my intimate visits with them, I no longer consider these engaging and attractive birds “just ordinary geese”!
Robert McCloskey’s “Make Way For Ducklings” (1941) is a classic children’s story of a mallard couple who raise a family in a park in Boston, Massachusetts. When I was a primary school teacher, I read this imaginative book dozens of times to my students.
It was wonderful to pass a peaceful hour observing a real mallard couple at the Audubon. Their vibrant colors, patterns and serene presence were delightful. It was easy to understand why McCloskey chose to feature these creatures in his story.
Recently I was thrilled to witness a Canada Goose displaying its wings in a gorgeous and dramatic fashion. It reminded me of Nike, the goddess of Victory, the sister of Kratos (Strength), Bia (Force), and Zelus (Zeal). She was most often portrayed with wings and was known as a divine charioteer who flew over the battlefield bestowing laurels upon the victors. She was one of the most frequently portrayed symbols on Greek coins.
The adaptable Canada Geese are back on the pond, and don’t seem to mind that it is still partly frozen. After a bit of slip-sliding away on the ice, what could be better than a quick “polar dip”?
These eye-catching ducks, decked out with bold stripes and flamboyant head gear, were back on the pond today. They seemed to enjoy swimming beside the just-arrived Canada geese.
The Audubon says:
“Mergansers are our only ducks that specialize in eating fish. The Hooded is the smallest of our three native merganser species, and often seems to be the least numerous, as it tends to live around swamps and wooded ponds where it may be overlooked. A cavity nester along wooded waterways in the temperate parts of North America, it has probably benefitted by taking advantage of nest boxes put out for Wood Ducks.”
These ducks and a swan at Mount Holyoke College seemed equally at home on ice or in the rushing water.