The geese are back in town

The geese have returned to the Research Triangle.  Every year around this time, we get an influx of Canadian geese around the area.  I really never noticed them until about 5 years ago, when I started my current job.  There is a small lake near the campus, and we usually get a flock of about 15-20 geese milling around for a few months.

Canadian geese are proud, majestic creatures.  How majestic?  Very.  Majestic as a rock.  Majestic as a stump.  Majestic as a sack of hammers.  Today when I went out for lunch, I saw two geese in the parking lot.  One was majestically sitting in the middle of the lane like a wooden decoy.  The other was majestically standing in mid-stride in the middle of the intersection.  Boy howdy, that’s majestic!

The lake is down a steep hill with no easy access from the road.  It’s a perfect spot for nesting.  Or at least I imagine it is.  I lack any real nesting experience, so I may be talking out of school, but if I were a migratory bird, I would probably want to build my nest away from things like people and traffic.  Then again, if I were a migratory bird coming down from Canadia, I probably wouldn’t wait until the first day of spring to start nesting.

But I am not a proud, majestic Canadian goose.  Every year, one of these birds decides to build its nest in a very public area.  Last year, it was in the two foot wide strip of grass between two lanes in the parking lot.  The year before, in a three-foot strip of grass between the sidewalk and the street, right along the path from my building to the cafeteria.  The year before that, it was right outside the front door of my building.  This does not appear to arise from their great love of humanity.  The birds seem to honk wildly at passers-by who venture too close.

This honking behavior is ironic, given that honking back is strictly forbidden.  Apparently Canadian geese are an endangered species.  Given their majestic way of striding into traffic at the speed of paint drying, this is not surprising.  But it means that many of the natural methods of human-goose communication (shooting, running over, chasing off, honking one’s horn at) are prohibited by law.  It seems that Canadian geese do not handle stress well, and yet they’re too majestic to avoid human contact.  So the law steps in.

As a result, many people I know regard the geese with a sense of awe.  I don’t know how many times I have heard people comment about these awe-full geese.  Just the other day, I overheard a man saying how awe-full it was that no one could do anything about them leaving their droppings on the mat in front of the building.

I don’t get this reaction, but then again, some people have a pretty majestic idea of what they should be in awe of.

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