Friday, December 21, 2012

My Massive Migration of Canada Geese

The sound was deafening.

Canada geese honked, and honked, and honked.  It wasn't just a single V.  There were scores of them.  I pulled my gaze away from the sky and looked around.  Just about every other person within the grocery store parking lot had their faces tilted toward the clouds, as well, mouths agape.

I wasn't alone in my amazement.

Indeed, I was so awe-stricken that by the time I realized I needed to capture this moment...

Large amount of Canada geese in the sky: 2 V-like segments, and a massive, chaotic curved line.
I kinda missed the impressive part of this group...
this is the small, unimpressive tail-end.

They had flown too far, and I only managed to catch the tail end of this massively huge group.

How's that for bad timing?

Geese have places that they wait until they have a nice sized grouping, and then the group flies off to a new location.  They follow the food, basically.  This means that flying South is not entirely necessary for them.  If food is in abundance, why leave?

These geese were flying Northeast - a far cry from South!

I'm actually used to seeing geese.  

They're permanent residents here, in Southern Minnesota. Seeing V formations is rather common.  I'm not, however, used to seeing enough geese to rival an Alfred Hitchcock film, all flying in one big group!

Basically, this large formation of geese began at what I'm guessing were a few different staging areas that were all based along the same flyway, and relatively close together.  As one group flew over, another group joined them until there was one massive group flying right above me.

I mentioned the term flyway.

Flyways are basically large corridors of waterfowl migration.  These are paths that are consistently used during migration.  There are four different major North American flyways, which encompass Mexico, the United States, and Canada.  My region is in what is called the Mississippi Flyway.  The other three are the Pacific, Central, and Atlantic Flyways.

Evidently, the Canada goose population in Minnesota has gotten pretty huge.  

It's not something that I, a relatively new arrival would have noticed.  Tons of geese?  Yeah, that's normal.  For me, anyway.

Other people, though, are showing concern.  They appear to be a problem for crops... especially soybean crops, which are evidently their meal of choice.

Canada geese weren't always abundant in Minnesota.  Rather, it was the exact opposite.  As explained by writer, Dave Orrick,

"Until a flock was discovered in Rochester in 1962, giant Canada geese were believed to be extinct. Genetically, giant Canadas and lesser Canadas are identical; scientists now suspect the subtle difference in size (they look nearly identical) is the result of giant Canadas migrating shorter distances, if at all, a life that affords them the ability to put on pounds. The vast majority of Canada geese in the Mississippi Flyway today are giant Canadas." (Minnesota goose hunting: Officials worry too many geese for hunters to manage)

And there are a lot of them.

I should be worried about the effect these beautiful creatures have on the farmland.  

Minnesota is a very soybean heavy region, after all, and that means a lot of farmers will have a tough time due to the overwhelmingly huge amount of geese we see.

I have to admit, though, that in reality I'm rather glad that they're consuming such a large amount.  I hope this will cause other crops to be grown in place of soybean.  


Because soybean in the United States is mostly genetically modified.  Genetically modified crops have not been properly tested by people outside of the companies that have modified them.  This, though, is only part of my concern.  I'm not really against genetic modification due to the modification itself.

My biggest problem is the pesticides that go into these fields.

GM crops are modified so that they can work successfully with the herbicides and pesticides that are used on them.  They're created by chemical companies in order to work for the chemicals that are being unloaded onto them... not so that they can feed the starving masses and save the world, like they claim.

I can't help but wonder if part of the reason these giant Canada geese are so abundant and huge has to do with the genetic modification of their favorite food source.  Maybe not, but maybe so, as well.  I'd like to see a study on that.

Will this mass consumption of pest/herbicides have a physical effect on the Canada goose population? If giant Canada geese and lesser Canada Geese are genetically the same, could this simply be a case of us fattening them up, so to speak?  Perhaps we're seeing the same thing in these geese that we're seeing in the human population of the United States.

I'd say a study is in order!  One that is not done 
by chemical companies... 

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