James L. Cowles

© Copyright 2023 by James L. Cowles

Image by 🌼Christel🌼 from Pixabay
Image by Christel from Pixabay

Like many of our friends, my wife and I love animals, and we realize that every time we humans take up space to build our human habitats, we are bumping critters aside, and taking up a little more of their space.

A lot of folks are like us, living in an area that was once only woods and farmland, where there lived, thriving, a lot of carefree animals. It could be that our developers recognized the need for animal habitat, because when they built our subdivision, they also put two nice size lakes at the entrance, and they left a stand of trees and bushes along with those lakes. They are a beautiful addition, and a magnet for wild animals, deer, foxes, geese, etc.

Over the years, we have noticed a growth in our area's duck and geese population and have enjoyed taking food to the lakes to feed them. We live in Louisville, Kentucky, a city some claim as Northern, some, Southern. To me, it's a beautiful mix of both traditions, mostly when considering food and dining, but it's far enough south to keep us from having harsh winters, as well as the snow that accompanies them.

Now, I think I should say that we have experienced warmer winters in the last twenty years, and with that, an increase in winged creatures of all species. Whether it's global warming or just a shift in the weather pattern, it is indeed a topic for another time. I only know the goose population around our lakes and neighborhood has increased substantially.

I used to love being outside in the fall and seeing the famous V-shape of geese flying southward. You could always hear them before you saw them, and each time I saw them it would cause me to wonder where they were off to. The destination of late, at least a good number of them, is the lakes in our subdivision. As a former Sales Manager, I at one time thought of myself as the lead goose, attempting to lead his sales staff of geese to success. I could see the perfect staff, honking, just to cheer me on. Then reality set in, and I would realize that it was more like the staff complaining to me about this or that, something every Sales Manager experiences. I made the mistake of introducing the “lead goose” theory in a sales meeting once, and never truly recovered from it, though they did agree I was a goose. The truth is, most birders will tell you, those followers are just shouting encouraging words to their leader, and every goose will take a turn in that lead position, sooner, or later. What’s good for the goose, is good for the gander; I wish I had thought of that in the sales meeting.

Now to the reason for this story. I used to love geese, and I guess that hasn’t totally changed. But I must say whether, in flocks or pairs, they leave a nasty mess behind, and of course, that is where the mess originates; from their behinds. For some reason, our front yard has become quite the attraction for a particular pair of geese, and they have taken up a token, or my wife thinks permanent, residence. They marry for life you know, and as in human marriage, the gander follows along behind Ms. Goose, who obviously wears the pants in the family. Sound familiar, guys? I’m pretty sure these two birds have been coming to our yard for several years now, and although I don’t believe they drink, they are a rowdy pair, indeed.

My wife is particularly upset at these two for lying on our emerging bluegrass. As for me, I hate the presents they often leave on our sidewalks, and the strange attraction our dog, and for that matter, other dogs have for their poop. We once had a dog that considered it a delicacy, and it was a major chore to keep her away from it. She was a playful animal and liked to give kisses. Ugh!

My wife often stands on the front porch shouting, “shoo, shoo,” which they generally ignore, or at times respond to her with a menacing, honk. Now, I’ve seen these birds chase dogs, and I’m not sure the foxes in our woods would stand a chance of nabbing them for a meal. In fact, foxes are most likely to go after the babies, and I’m sure we will have a healthy batch of those very soon. Geese are aggressive rascals when bothered, and I’ve warned my wife to stay near the front door when she yells at them. She has tried many things to get them to move on, including an air horn, the type you would take to a ball game on Saturday afternoon or evening, a whistle, and even a harmonica (various keys). I am sorry to report, none of these had any effect on the brazen duo. Today, just as I was thinking of writing this story for Richard, she discovered the remedy she has been searching for, and she did it quite by accident. She took our new electric blower to the front yard with the intent to blow Magnolia leaves from our river rock that is around our shrubs. Let me tell you, our duo does not like the sound, nor the stream of forceful air that thing produces. They took to the sky in a big hurry, honking a warning either to my wife or perhaps to other geese in the area. The last time I saw them, they were headed for our lakes.

We still love and admire these beautiful Canadian geese, but we hope they do not remember our faces when we stop by the lakes to feed them. If by chance they recognize my wife, she may be in for it, but I will sacrifice myself as Mr. Gander would do, and follow quickly and closely behind her and see she gets safely in the car.

We do have another way to see our not-so-friendly duo without endangering ourselves. The pair always stops by our neighbor’s pool when he opens it this month, and they bring along quite a few friends. They all come by just to test the water, to see if it meets their standards, and we can watch them from our backyard. Thankfully, I will not have to clean the pool after they leave their inevitable presents.  

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