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Whether sportsmen are simply drawn to the daily flights of the local Canada geese, they attract our attention and have become winter residents in our local neighborhoods. The …
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Whether sportsmen are simply drawn to the daily flights of the local Canada geese, they attract our attention and have become winter residents in our local neighborhoods.
The geese can be an irritation to golfers and park managers. Conversely, they offer an up close and personal nature experience for kids and those who enjoy observing wildlife.
Unlike the neighborhood fox, prairie dog, cottontail rabbit or even coyote, these graceful birds do not make our communities their yearround home. Colorado, over the past four decades, has gradually attracted a growing number of these migrating waterfowl. Canada geese are nomads, moving along an age-old flyway to and from their summer nesting grounds in Canada’s neighboring provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan and northern Canadian inland wetland regions.
Seemingly out of nowhere, these flocks appear in November in our urban areas. The numbers increase over time. If the weather is stable with limited snow cover and less than continued subzero temperatures. These migratory waterfowl will make the Front Range their winter home but only for a few months. After we have become accustomed to them, we realize one day in March the flocks are dwindling and we wonder, where are the geese? Where did they go? Why did they leave?
A natural instinct driven by longer days and warming temperatures slowly brings the scattered flocks of Canada geese together. They gather and stage in preparation for their return to northern summer nesting grounds. In a quiet hour of the night, unseen by any of us, the assemblage of hundreds– even thousands–of these birds rise in unison, select leaders among themselves, organize into the popular “V” formations and quietly start their migration back north. The travelers will periodically stop for food, water and rest but always with their instinctive natural GPS focused on the vast wetlands of southern Canada.
There are some theories wildlife scientists have come to accept to explain migration. One suggesting, rather than hibernate as many wild mammals do during the winter months, geese and birds move south to more accommodating climates. Another concept of transmutation says the annual change in bird feathers and colors forces opposing colored birds apart, thus the migration movement. A third theory is that of Northern-Southern Ancestral Home, which purports during the ice age both water and land was covered at various time periods eliminating water for resting and land for food sources, thus forcing birds and geese to move in search of both. A fourth and more understandable theory is photoperiodism that indicates changes in the length of day and temperatures, loss of food sources and icing of water bodies, forced migratory movement of the geese and birds to find water and food.
Whatever theory one might subscribe to, the fact remains; Mother Nature has created a pattern of movement among birds and the Canada geese. We clearly witness this phenomenon each fall and spring right in our neighborhoods. Be watchful, one morning the large numbers of Canada geese we witnessed the day before will be absent. Sometime during the quiet of the night they said goodbye, but fortunately, they will be back.
Contact the author at Ron-Hellbusch@comcast.net.
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