Thursday, 2 October 2014

Broken Wing

This has been an unusual year for Canada Goose in the park. Usually, a flock visits during the winter, roosting elsewhere and returning every morning to enjoy the bread and food given by people. Some time during last winter, one of the geese got injured, its right wing hanging a bit loose on the side (I first noticed it the 16th of January, the photo above is from the 16th of March). The injury, at the base of the wing, prevented it from flying, and it must have happened in the park, maybe due to a collision with a tree branch or a fight with a dog. The bird seemed content, fed well and recovered enough for the injury to be almost unnoticeable. But when the flock decided it was time to depart for the breeding grounds, at mid February, the lame goose stayed behind. All through the summer it has been alone in the park, joining the mallards during feeding time, and probably roosting on the little island at night. I felt for him as geese are such sociable birds.
Part of the Canada Flock returning from the roost in the morning
 The flock of Canada Geese returned last week. I searched for the lame one in the pond, but failed to spot him, it must have mingled with the rest of the geese. I wished I had been there to watch his reaction to, first, the distant honks of the approaching flock, and then to the geese themselves once they landed. Then a couple of days ago, early in the morning, I spotted him with two others, just before most of the flock returned. Again, today, the goose was with a female before the main flock returned. They followed each other closely, like a pair of geese would do. Could it be that this was/is his partner? Geese form strong partnerships and bond through the year, and for many years if not for life. They also recognise many individuals in their flock, including their past offspring. The female goose is actually staying to roost with the lame goose at night, instead of following the flock. Maybe when the migratory urge kicks in spring she will leave with the flock, but maybe not.
The lame goose in the background, with a partner on the 30th of September
My peak count per visit graph for Canada Goose in Pearson Park. If you try you can see a tiny green bar between week 8 and week 39, corresponding to the lame goose. Created with BirdTrack.


  1. Excellent to see a post again after such a long silence.

    Interested to hear that your geese actually migrate. Here in London the population of Greylags and Canadas is more or less resident, with a certain amount of daily commuting between the parks and the Thames -- for example, there is a colony of Greylags on the river at St Mary's Church in Battersea, and more as you go upstream. We get large influxes in the park in June, when both kinds of goose fly in to moult their flight feathers on the safety of the big lake. Also in winter in frosty weather, when they know that they will be able to get at some grass even if they have to scrape the snow off it -- I have seen more than 400 Greylags in Hyde Park on some days.

    (By the way, a spam comment has been sitting in your previous post like a cuckoo's egg for some time.)

  2. Thank you for your comment Ralph, yes, I've been quiet in the summer, but hopefully, things would be back to normal with the cool weather. It fascinates me the complex movements of geese, with their wintering, moulting, breeding and roosting grounds. The experience of the older birds must be very important. Our park is small, and not suitable as breeding ground but there is a lot of people willing to feed the ducks and geese, and a large expanse of grass, so in winter it is a nice prospect for both greylag and canada. Very occasionally we've had a pinkfoot and a barnacle geese. Thank you for alert me to the spam, I'll kick it out of the nest in a minute!