[Bristol-Birds] Is there a crash or something strange about Canada Goose reproduction ?

  • From: "Wallace Coffey" <jwcoffey@xxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: "Bristol-birds" <bristol-birds@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Mon, 8 Jun 2009 22:05:20 -0400

Musick's Campground
South Holston Lake
Sullivan Co., TN

Canada Goose 72
Purple Martin  12
Tree Swallow 6

It has been somewhat astonishing so far this spring and summer
that I have seen almost no geese with goslings.  Do I have my
timing off ?

The 72 Canada geese mentioned above are noteworthy in that
they represent one large flock of birds that appears to have no
pairing and no gosling or family components whatsoever.  Is 
there something very different going on this year ?  Even the
geese at Middlebrook Lake were standing on the dam Sunday
and virtually no pairs were evident.  I did not see goslings.

Even in Shady Valley, Johnson County, 31 May, I posted that I
found a flock (22).  They were grazing in a field some distance
from water.  There were no young birds of this breeding season.

Canada pair in late winter and very early spring.  Eggs are
laid early enough that goslings can be found out and about in
a higher-elevation valley such as Shady in late May.  Small 
family groups are often evident in the first week of June.  

Mated pairs do not hang out with other birds, let alone in large 
flocks.  These flocks, which are evident in several
places about the area, are unmated birds for this season.

Molting occurs between mid-June through August. Most birds 
are able to resume flight by mid-August.  I have not yet seen
molting birds.  It is probably a little early for that.  When they
begin to molt, feathers are all over the areas where they
hang out and it sometimes becomes a nasty scene.

During this molting period, geese will gather on ponds or lakes 
since they provide a safe resting place and security from 
predators. During the molting period, Canada geese do major 
damage to landscape as they congregate on lawns near water. 

An obvious and high-profile pair of Mute Swans is wandering
around Middlebrook Lake (I suppose this is a mated pair but
I do not know that).  At first,  I thought maybe the swans at
Middlebrook were keeping the drama and chaos pressure on
the Canada Goose flock.  I wondered if that might be 
discouraging mating among the geese.  Mute Swans are well
known for such behavior and are often put on golf course
ponds for that very purpose.

A little rambling here but I am thinking out loud.  Keep and eye
on the geese near where you bird and see if you can get a
feel for whether broods of goslings are up to par in general
numbers.  Also take note of the larger flocks of Canadas you
find.  Remember, in a week or two, they will molt and will not
be able to fly about for a couple of months.

Let's go birding . . . .

Wallace Coffey
Bristol, TN

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