Monday, June 20, 2011

Fowl or Fair

One of my earliest memories involves waterfowl... swans, to be precise. My mother, sister and I had gone to the park armed with a loaf of bread to feed the ducks. I don't ever remember doing this on any other occasion, purposefully going out to feed the ducks. But here we were. I remember standing at the edge of the pond, clutching that loaf of bread, wondering why my mother and sister were slowly backing away. I turned around to see a trio of swans, wings spread, descending upon me, hissing for all they were worth. I can't recall how old I was at the time, but I must have been very small, because those swans seemed so much larger than me. I hurled the loaf at the birds and hightailed it out of there.

Flash forward to Ueno Zoo in Tokyo. They let the Canada Geese roam freely around the zoo. I would like to point out that they may be called Canada Geese, but these particular birds do not sport the stereotypical  world renowned manners of a Canadian. I was wearing sandals, and had my toes viciously pecked by those geese. Had the Japanese visitors not been watching the white girl getting attacked by the birds, I would have punted them like a football-- the geese, not the Japanese visitors, although punting the latter for nonchalantly watching the attack was awfully tempting.

Now, we walk our dog across the river from -shire's largest public park, complete with its own duck pond. The Canada Geese migrate here every spring and nest. There seem to be more goslings than ever this year, and all it took was a loaf of bread to get the flock to gather. My husband distracted the mama and papa geese while the wee ones gathered round for their photo shoot. Do not attempt shooting a flock o' goslings on your own: you will require a partner, if not a team, to disperse the bread. By the way, if you ever attempt such a shoot, never mind feeding the babies, feed the parents. Trust me on this one. The parents are not afraid to get in your face. The little ones will get close, only less with the hissing and pecking. So there I was, surrounded by about fifty or sixty goslings (and the odd golden-eye duck) all clamoring for a piece of bread, when my husband calls out for me to turn. There, coming down the hill toward me like the Mongol hoard, or some medieval army swarm (imagine Braveheart, only with fewer kilts), came another hundred or so goslings and parents. And we were out of bread.

My next piece of advice is entitled: How to Survive a Canada Goose Attack When You are Out of Bread. The answer: hissssssss back for all you're worth. The geese will not respond to your energy a la Cesar Milan. Hiss, baby, hiss. And mean it.

And, I shall close with a piece of news I read today that may make you laugh or cringe. Evidently the Canada Geese in New York have become such a nuisance that New York is going to cull them and dump them on generously donate them to feed the poor people of Pennsylvania.  Waste not...

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