Canada Goose Roost Shift

by Carl Strang

Over the last two winters the Canada geese wintering in DuPage County have, on the whole, continued the pattern of activity I have described in the past (for instance here). This winter one of their roosts had to move, thanks to mitigation and restoration work in the West Branch of the DuPage River at McDowell Forest Preserve. The roosting area used to be the large shallow pool created by the old McDowell dam.

Geese at the former roost area prior to departing for the morning feed.

Geese at the former roost area prior to departing for the morning feed.

Dredging to remove toxic thorium from the riverbed, coupled to notching the dam and reconfiguring the channel, have eliminated that pool.

The site of the former pool, which will improve in appearance over time.

The site of the former pool, which will improve in appearance over time.

Not far downstream from the old McDowell dam is the Fawell Dam, a more modern flood control structure. It allows plenty of water to flow through, but it widens the river enough to provide a new safe roosting area which the geese now are using.

Geese in their new roosting area.

Geese in their new roosting area.

On January 1, when I visited McDowell and took these photos, I was surprised when some geese in the channel near the former roost came up onto land and approached me.

Hm, I thought, someone’s been feeding you, haven’t they?

Hm, I thought, someone’s been feeding you, haven’t they?

I told the geese they were out of luck with me.

One pair settled practically at my feet and began to nibble at grass seedlings.

One pair settled practically at my feet and began to nibble at grass seedlings.

At least that was a safer, more nutritious diet than they are likely to be getting from handouts.

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