Geese Shift Gears

by Carl Strang

The goose family from the parking lot marsh nest returned to Mayslake Forest Preserve’s mansion grounds for a few days in mid-September. Dad is recognizable by the band on his left foot, the two surviving kids can fly now.

For now they are staying to themselves, but the last two weeks have seen goose families across DuPage County coalescing into flocks as they shift toward their winter pattern.

Last Friday this flock on Rice Lake at Danada Forest Preserve numbered close to two hundred birds. The coming couple months will see such flocks build on many lake, river and marsh roosting grounds. From there they will radiate out to lawns and fields to feed during the day. Soon they’ll be joined by northern geese, and the flocks will build to their peak sizes until the freeze concentrates them on the major roosting sites, at which time some will shift south. After that, much depends on the severity of the winter. Winter may not be my favorite season, but the past couple of years I have been enjoying my study of Canada goose winter behavior. As the weather turns frosty I can at least look forward to learning whatever new lessons the geese will have to teach me.

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