There’s something fascinating about Canadian geese. Yeah, I know, I know. They can be a pain when they use parks and lawns as their bathroom away from home. Or when they aggressively block a sidewalk forcing you to make an embarrassing detour around them. They are not that big really, and they don’t weigh anywhere near the poundage that their solid girth would lead you to believe. On the other hand, they can wield that sharp beak like a seasoned Samurai.

It helps me to realize that it’s nothing personal. They just want me nowhere near their family — especially if there are  baby geese naively meandering about. Their commitment and protection of their little family touches me. There will be times I see a group crossing a busy street with an adult goose in front and an equally watchful adult bringing up the rear. They take their duties very seriously. At least one is always on guard making sure everything is okay while the other goose and the goslings rest or feed.

I’ve written before on this blog about the evocative sound of geese on the wing. When it is a flock overhead, the sound stirs me to travel, to see new places and experience new things. But sometimes when it is a lone goose, the sound of its voice worries me. Is it lost? Scared? The honking seems plaintive, a beseeching ‘where are you?’ flung out across an empty sky.

I know geese mate for life. In college I remember reading stories of geese who essentially sacrificed themselves to follow a wounded mate down out of the sky after it had been shot. Some even physically trying to keep their partners aloft for a little longer.

In the past week I have come across a number of geese who are clearly looking for nest sites. These pairs are usually on their own and house hunting with intensity. A pair I startled in a field, immediately highstepped towards the nearby river bank. One of them quickly launched out into the relative safety of the water, the other remained for a bit looking back at me. The goose in the water started honking in a loud somewhat fractious manner. I have no doubt she or he was giving their partner an earful. I walked away to give them some space and the goose who had stayed behind keeping an eye on me, making sure I was not a threat, slid quietly into the water to join its mate.