THE SNOW GOOSE – Marilyn Armstrong

Snow Goose — Peterson: Field Guide to Birds

White with black primaries. Often rust-stained from feeding in muddy or iron-rich waters.


She checked “snow goose” from her “life list” of viewed birds. It was among the last of the remaining ones. She stood in the marsh, up to her shins in the same brown mud that had stained the lower feathers of her snow goose. She wondered if the world would last long enough for her to make the rest of her life list birds … or even if the birds would last long enough for her to put that check mark there.

She packed up her gear. Put away her glasses, her camera, and her book. It was a newer book because the birds had moved around. Many were gone, others no longer migrated or lived only in very small areas and distant from her.

And then, she walked back to her car. She had found her snow goose. As for the rest? It was all far too big for her … a world-class problem. Meanwhile, it was a very long drive back to civilization.


 NOTES ABOUT THE PICTURE:

The big male goose (there was another one, the slightly smaller female who was taking on other geese in another part of the lake (these birds mate for life as do geese) was attacking the geese who had taken their nest on the little island.

You won’t see geese and swans sharing a lake. Or, for that matter, herons who are equally possessive about”their” space. The geese were trying to move in and had stolen the swan’s nest They probably had eaten the eggs by then, too. That’s what big birds do to stop the encroachment of other large birds.

The swan in the pond

Geese and swan do NOT get along at all. It’s a kill or be-killed thing going on. A pity for us, because the lake is more than big enough for both, but they will not share it and the herons have the river and don’t come to the lake.

Ducks are every bird’s pal, oddly enough — but geese, swans, and herons are enemies. That had been a swan’s nest, We had watched them build it. There were no cygnets that year.

I couldn’t see what was going on, but I knew something was. It was on the other side of the lake. All I could see was white feathers and something happening, but the battle had underway for hours. Both swans had been patrolling, but the geese kept popping up.

Canada Geese are much faster than mute swans and surprisingly strong for their weight, but a full-grown Swan is MUCH bigger and stronger. They can’t take off and fly as the geese do — they are too heavy and need a lot of runway to get into the air, which is why they walk around lakes while the geese fly. So give it to the geese for mobility, but for sheer strength, swans have it.

Together forever, swans mate for life

The swans won ultimately.

As for me, I set the camera on “all the way out” and shot. I didn’t know what I had until I put the pictures in the computer. My eyes don’t do that well. The far side of the lake is too far for my eyes even with my “long distance” glasses on, but the lens got it.

We think only people fight, but animals have their lines drawn too.

Author: Marilyn Armstrong

Writer, photography, blogger. Previously, technical writer. I am retired and delighted to be so. May I live long and write frequently.

17 thoughts on “THE SNOW GOOSE – Marilyn Armstrong”

    1. Yes. The geese were trying to move in and they had stolen the swan’s nest. The swans ultimately routed the geese who moved to other lakes. Geese and swan do NOT get along at all. Ducks get on with everyone, but geese and swans are enemies. And that had actually been a swan’s nest. I’m pretty sure the geese ate their eggs because there were no cygnets that year.

      I couldn’t see what was going on –it was on the other side of the lake and all I could see was white feathers and something happening — but the battle had been going on for a while. Hours. Both swans (they mate for life ) had been patrolling, but the geese kept popping up.

      The geese are much faster than the swans and surprisingly strong, but swans are MUCH bigger and stronger. The swans won, overall. I just set the camera on “long” and shot. I didn’t know what I had until I put the pictures in the computer. My eyes can’t do that well — even at their best, the other side of the like is too far for my eyes and that would be with my “long distance” glasses, but the lens caught it.

      Liked by 2 people

    1. No, but I would love to hear it. I wonder if they have the recording at Audible? I will check! They have all kinds of things. I may have read it years ago … it’s hard to remember all te things I’ve read!

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  1. Animal life is war. Only our sentimentality tells us anything else. Anyway, the snow geese come here often. It’s really lovely to see them out at the Wildlife Refuge where the Sandhill Cranes hang out in spring. Cranes and geese seem to get along pretty well together — they’re always out there.

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    1. Are cranes fishing birds too? It’s strange that the geese, swans, and herons are all lethal enemies, but everyone gets on with ducks. Any kind of ducks. Yes, animals have their own little wars going. We don’t get snow geese here. They fly over us sometimes because some of them migrate, but most of them live pretty high up in Canada. We get Canda geese here. They used to migrate, but no longer do. For the past five years, they have been here all year round.

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      1. Cranes are omnivores, but they really like barley, frogs and fish. Most of the snow geese we get are on their way to Canada and I think some have maybe joined in with a flock of Canada geese to make it easier.

        Maybe all those birds look at ducks and think, “Why a duck?” 😉

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  2. That’s interesting. Naomi lives near a lake where there is a bird conservation area. There are black swans there but also a few geese who I think live at one end of the lake. The swans are definitely in the majority though. A different breed of geese though. I think that black swans are smaller than white ones so they would be a bit more evenly matched.

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    1. The bigger birds really don’t like each other. I have seen geese and swans sharing a REALLY big lake and different parts of the same river, but they keep a long distance between them. And they will all attack and eat each others’ eggs. Yet … they ALL get along with ducks. Any kind of ducks.

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