Posts Tagged ‘geese’

The Muds of March

March 14, 2010

March is here, the Sandhill Cranes are mostly gone, and the Canada Geese are leaving.  That means it’s time for our annual reminder of Aldo Leopold.

One swallow does not make a summer, but one skein of geese, cleaving the murk of a March thaw, is the spring.

A cardinal, whistling spring to a thaw but later finding himself mistaken, can retrieve his error by resuming his winter silence. A chipmunk, emerging for a sunbath, but finding a blizzard, has only to go back to bed.  but a migrating goose, staking two hundred miles of black night on the chance of finding a hole in the lake, has no easy chance for retreat.  His arrival carries the conviction of a prophet who has burned his bridges.

Leopold lived on a farm in Wisconsin so when he saw the geese in March, they were passing through on their way north. Writing sometime before 1948, he notes in his book A Sand County Almanac, that the geese he saw were well-educated and knew something about the Wisconsin statutes. In November, when flying south, the geese took a direct line over his farm and flew as high as they could get.  In the spring, they flew low, landed, and even idled about for a couple of weeks. The geese, Leopold hypothesized, knew that Wisconsin’s hunting laws allowed people to shoot them in November, but not in March. And so, natural selection marched on.

A March morning is only as drab as he who walks in it without a glance skyward, ear cocked for geese. I once knew an educated lady, banded by Phi Beta Kappa, who told me that she had never heard or seen the geese that twice a year proclaim the revolving seasons to her well-insulated roof. Is education possibly a process of trading awareness for things of lesser worth?  The goose who trades his is soon a pile of feathers.

As geese can be under-educated, and get shot in Wisconsin in November, humans can be over-educated and miss their connection to the earth. Of the ten known human species that so far have walked this planet, nine are extinct. Makes you nervous.

But, for now anyway, the geese fly and, “the whole continent receives as net profit a wild poem dropped from the murky skies upon the muds of March.”


The quotes are from A Sand County Almanac, “March: The Geese Return.”

Silly Geese

January 20, 2010

Snow Geese

Huh? What? What did he say? Coyotes? Did he say coyotes? Who? No, I think he said we should buy oats.  No, he said, “Hi Goats.” But we’re not goats, were geese. Coats? We don’t need no stinkin’ coats, we’re Snow Geese! Silly goose! Who you callin’ a silly goose? Huh? Who’s that guy with the camera? Somebody ask him if he’s seen any coyotes. Coyotes! Where? Who said? Geese can’t talk English. What’s going on here? Don’t look behind us, they may be gaining. Who? The coyotes. What coyotes? Huh?


Click on the geese for a larger view.

Geese Brains

January 5, 2010

Our readers know that calling someone a “bird brain” is no more an insult that calling that person a “bright bulb.”  But if you know doubters who somehow missed the science about avian intelligence, you can send them this.  Apparently the owners thought a couple of scarecrows would keep the Canada Geese off their lawn.  The geese were not amused.

The Naming of the Birds

February 16, 2008

A Red-winged Blackbird


Dawn by Robert Bly

Some love to watch the sea bushes appearing at dawn,
To see night fall from the goose wings, and to hear
The conversations the night sea has with the dawn.

If we can’t find Heaven, there are always bluejays.
Now you know why I spent my twenties crying.
Cries are required from those who wake disturbed at dawn.

Adam was called in to name the Red-Winged
Blackbirds, the Diamond Rattlers, and the Ring-Tailed
Raccoons washing God in the streams at dawn.

Centuries later, the Mesopotamian gods,
All curls and ears, showed up; behind them the Generals
With their blue-coated sons who will die at dawn.

Those grasshopper-eating hermits were so good
To stay all day in the cave; but it is also sweet
To see the fenceposts gradually appear at dawn.

People in love with the setting stars are right
To adore the baby who smells of the stable, but we know
That even the setting stars will disappear at dawn.

Teshekpuk Lake, Oil and Gas, and the BLM

October 30, 2007

We blogged last week about Teshekpuk Lake in the Arctic. Now comes the news that the public comment period on the BLM’s latest attempt to open the area for oil and gas exploration is about to expire.

Here is an explanation of the plan and what you can do to help protect the Lake, if you are so inclined. The draft letter suggested by the Audubon Society is pretty good but remember to re-write it so it isn’t just a cookie-cutter letter. The geese and loons will thank you for your effort.

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