All wild animals and birds are to some extent “aggressive”- but this is a purely human subjective emotion that can only be calibrated by human perception, which very often can be misinterpreted. Geese like other birds live their lives under constant fear of predation. No human unless hunted can appreciate this condition, or what it would take to reduce the chances of being predated. “Whatever it takes” is probably a motto that wildlife has to live by.
Human perception of bird behaviour is drawn from Canada geese interaction with
- other geese,
- other species
- and with humans.
Of the first form of interaction, geese flock in family groups, and can be territorial which means that if one flock fly into another’s territory the two chief ganders will probably fight. This may not last very long but the rest of the flock will honk and hiss loudly like a baying crowd at a boxing match or football game. The loser will often fly off with their tail between their legs and be pursued by the victor into the water. THIS IS NATURAL BEHAVIOUR, AND NOT ALL THAT DIFFERENT TO INSTANCES OF ANTI-SOCIAL BEHAVIOUR BY HUMANS IN PUBS OR TOWN CENTRES, OR EVEN OUTSIDE THE SCHOOL GATES. Some people may come across such a fight in progress, but it really has nothing to do with them, and they should not try to interfere or get in the way, just as they would not get in the way if it were two people fighting in the street.
The geese are also prone when grazing to nipping the nearest goose to them usually on the backside tail feathers which often produces a clump of feathers appearing in the mouth or on the ground. This behaviour is simply a means by which the geese are communicating with one another by staying in touch with the flock, usually for group survival. It also gradually moves the flock over a circular area, meaning that they can feed by moving in a formation whereby they maintain awareness of predators and the water escape route, should a dog or fox appear suddenly.
Canada geese will also be quite loud when coming across another pair, in the same territorial manner as in a flock. The ganders will thrust their neck and heads to the ground and downward charge at the rival, where a fight may then ensue by flapping of the wings and locking beaks on the rivals neck. Again this is no different to mixed martial arts fighting or boxing. IN SHORT CANADA GOOSE “AGGRESSION” IS LITTLE DIFFERENT FROM HUMAN BEHAVIOUR WHEN YOU CAN SEE IT FOR WHAT IT IS.
Canada geese are not the top dogs of the lake that some people think they are. They do not bully other species smaller than themselves in the same way that mute swans do. People should also look at the behaviour of coots and moorhens who fight menacingly it seems at the slightest opportunity, but no-one appears to be singling out those birds for slaughter. Fights between mute swans can be far more deadly than fights between geese. In addition a pair of swans will be unlikely to accept another pair into their territory without there being a major fight between the two cobs.
Whereas geese are likely to stay together in family groups after fledging throughout the year, swans will chase off their young by April of the following year from the nesting site. This “aggressive behaviour” is deemed by those in the nature conservation industry as “natural behaviour”, and this group of people are the very last to offer any form of help for a bird being attacked, or one which ends up being injured by a dog or human hands. “Nature” it seems is a strangely veiled word for the “conservationist”.
Human interaction with Canada geese usually occurs when they are feeding birds in the area where the geese are congregating. In terms of tameness, geese will sometimes approach a person that it sees with bread, in the same way that a cat, dog or horse would approach a person bearing gifts of sustenance. It may be the case that the goose misinterprets a person with food as meaning that the food is for it- but is this the fault of the goose? Many geese will feed out of the hand without biting anyone or leaving any form of injury at all.
The most often cited falsity is the Canada gooses alleged “aggression” towards children. Let me as an observer take you through what happens time and time again if you watch what happens as an unbiased observer closely.
- Child has a bag of bread (often dry mould) put in hand by parent who is too busy talking on their mobile phone to be interested.
- Child with or without bread runs towards a group of geese causing them to panic as they would if a predator with an unusual “attack” approaches them.
- Child does not really know why it is chasing an animal or bird- an inbuilt hunting form of “aggression”?
- Child stops before hitting bird and bird flies up in the air near to the child’s neck line
- Over protective mother then sees the flapping wings and has not took any notice of her child’s “aggressive” behaviour but notes that the goose is showing “aggressive” behaviour by flapping its wings and “threatening” her child.
- Parent makes complaint that their child is afraid of the “aggressive” bird, which in reality the child is not, it is they that are afraid of their child being harmed by irrational fear for fears sake. They would consider themselves in the subconscious to be bad mothers if they did not exercise this irrational fear as an outburst from time to time-usually to an authority figure or entity.
- Child is then reprimanded to draw back because of this “dangerous aggressive bird”- thus forming a false impression which could last their whole lifetime and a fear of this bird is created by parental over protective idiosyncrasy.
- IF THE PARENT CARED, THEY WOULD EXPLAIN THE BIRDS BEHAVIOUR AND NOT LET THEIR CHILDREN RUN AT THE BIRD AS THOUGH THEY WERE GOING TO KILL OR ATTACK IT. CONTROL YOUR CHILDREN PROPERLY IS WHAT WE ARE SAYING HERE, AND DO NOT BLAME THE BIRDS REACTION FOR YOUR OWN SELFISH GENES AGGRESSIVE BEHAVIOUR.
DEFENDING THEIR CHILDREN.
I once heard a parent explain to their young daughter about how birds were behaving when hissing with a group of goslings. “not too close…….” “Why are they hissing daddy?”
“It’s because they’re protecting them, like I’d protect you.”
This is a responsible and good parent explaining the goose behaviour in a way that the child would understand, and meaning that she could appreciate the wildlife whilst at the same time understanding it as well. If only all parents behaved in a similar way when their children approach a group of parenting geese, then perhaps some of the misconstrued “aggression” could be removed. Geese often organise their goslings after a couple of weeks into creches, as humans do with schools and nurseries. This offers increased protection from a group of adults taking turns to watch over them. But this grouping can lead people to misinterpret protection for “aggression”, as well as there being “too many” geese.
How would they react if a gang of knife wielding masked men approached their children in the school playground? Would they not defend them? Do they realise that they when seeing a single man approach, call their child to come closer to them and that this is an example of their misplaced paranoia perception that in some way a male “stranger” is going to abduct their child unless the hand is held tight? How many single men have witnessed this first hand, or even felt ostracised by this unspoken allegation with action and without credibility? Now you are aware of it, just see how many times it happens when out and about- even though the majority of paedophiles come from within the family itself.
Sandwell council have lazily stated that the geese are “too aggressive” , and offer no direct evidence of this other than just a trite lazy phrase that they try to justify with complaints made to them by faceless parents, who probably do not exist. They could not under scrutiny offer any evidence of geese harming people on Sandwell’s local parks and open spaces.
Ornithophobia, the fear of birds is something that can be passed on to children by the parent. Perhaps Sandwell council should ascertain the mental integrity of the parent making the complaint before just accepting a complaint. Perhaps one of the reasons why its children’s services department was so disgracefully failing was the inability to ask relevant questions or apply scrutiny.
Parental paranoia and protection of their selfish gene is what lies behind the majority of false claims against the goose.
“Aggressive” behaviour of the goose has hopefully now been explained. It is not all that different from human behaviour– perhaps that is what people really do not like about them.