Yesterday, a beautiful pair of Canada Geese suddenly appeared on our neighbor’s pond. Leisurely swimming from one end to the other, they were checking out the water and its environs to see if it was a suitable place to nest. I watched from a distance for quite a while, snapped a couple of pictures, and left so as not to disturb them.
We live in an area where strong-running creeks flowing out of the mountains vastly outnumber the slow-moving bodies of water that geese prefer, so I was a little surprised to see them. But our neighbor’s pond is made-to-order. With gently flowing water, a moderately sloped bank with no tall vegetation to hide a predator, and a surround of mowed grass perfect for eating, I’m sure the geese pair were thinking this spot would do quite nicely.
But things are not always as they seem. This morning, I happened to look out the window just in time to see a coyote loping out of the woods, headed in the direction of the pond. As I watched, out came another…and another…and another! I immediately thought of the geese, but when I looked over at the pond, they were gone. Perhaps they had seen the coyotes earlier and beat a hasty retreat. With four coyotes in the area, they would have stayed at their peril and put their young at extreme risk.
And coyotes aren’t the only predator the geese would have had to worry about. Their eggs and young would be tempting to foxes, skunks, raccoons, and even ravens. That’s why geese populations are increasing in urban and suburban areas. These areas provide excellent goose habitat with far fewer predators than a rural setting like ours. Well-kept lawns, golf courses, business parks, city parks, and recreational fields provide excellent forage. They also often contain water reservoirs, lakes, ponds, and marshes dotted with islands that provide safe nesting sites for geese.
I hated to see the geese leave, but the pond wasn’t a safe place to raise their young. With any luck, they will find a more suitable place and in just a few weeks, be parading a new family.