Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Goose in a Tree

Canada goose in Washington Park, Denver - W. Gerecht
The Gerechts in Denver sent this picture with the following note.  "It is mating season here in Denver. The Canadian geese are in the trees, on the roofs and anyplace high, screaming to the world, that they would make the best mate (I assume it is the males)."  If this was any of my usual associates I might have thought alcohol and Photoshop was involved, but this was real.

Having watched geese land on earth, I would have never guessed they could hang on to a tree limb.  On the other hand, I doubt they could climb the trunk like a nuthatch or woodpecker.  As usual, that great repository of ornithological knowledge, Google, came to the rescue.

 Canada geese in Canada, nesting in a tree stump - DNCB
It turns out that others have seen this behavior.  A wild "goose in a tree" search brings up a bunch of pictures without any more details. Delta Nats Casual Birding in Canada even report finding a pair of Canada Geese that had started nesting in a tree trunk/stump about 30 feet high.

MPG Ranch manages 10,000 acres in western Montana.  They have this video showing a pair of Canada geese nesting in a sycamore tree.  It turns out this must be a Montana thing.  At the Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge in the Bitterroot Mountains of Montana, an old Mutual of Omaha Wild Kingdom video documents Canada geese nesting in trees in a swamp, apparently to escape from ground based predators.  Watch the final two goslings make their big leap from the nest at 11:20, looking like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid with feathers.

Burwick taught me that you never call them Canadian - it is Canada geese.  Eh?  Furthermore, it is unlikely they have ever seen Canada as they are likely to be resident geese this time of year.  He tells this story.
"A few years ago, a pair of Canada geese took over an eagle's nest located high up in a sycamore tree below Fellow's Lake dam. Literally took it over, they ran out the eagles that were already setting on eggs."
Having seen what geese do on the sidewalks of the Springfield Botanical Center, I am thankful that tree nesting hasn't occurred in our park.

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