What’s Good for the Gander

Canada Geese with goslings

The season’s first Canada Goose babies hatched out this past week, and the dad has become paranoidally protective. You wouldn’t think an animal with webbed feet and no teeth could be very fearsome, but geese are fully capable of taking on grown men. I know, because of Mr. Hissy.

Mr. Hissy was a male Canada Goose who decided to stake out the entire East Point as his territory one year. As April faded into May and his hormones cranked up, he began charging out of his grassy kingdom whenever anyone got near – mouth agape, eyes aflame, tongue sticking out, hissing like a broken steam pipe. It was totally intimidating.

I came home from a losing bout with Mr. Hissy one morning and complained to my husband that a goose was keeping me from visiting one of my favorite lookout spots. “I can’t even walk near East Point without that pesky goose attacking me,” I said.

“Well,” huffed my husband, “we’ll soon see about that.” John was offended that his own mate was being threatened by another male, avian though it might be. All his defensive hormones began to rage, and a faint brogue entered his speech. John claims a wild Scottish clansman as his ancestor, and I suspect he secretly yearns for a claymore.

Canada Geese hissing

The next morning, my hero accompanied me out to the point. When Mr. Hissy saw us, he came charging out as usual. In his eyes was the light of battle. On his lips (if he had had them) was his hissy battle cry. John puffed himself up, spread out his arms, and hissed right back. Mr. Hissy stopped dead in his tracks. He was baffled. No one had ever hissed at him before. He stalked back and forth through the grass, trying to figure out what to do. But it was no good. John was just too big and feisty. Mr. Hissy was forced to retreat.

As we continued down the trail, John remarked, “There, you see. You should have no more troub….” Pow! Mr. Hissy had taken flight and rammed John in the back of the head. We fled. Later on, after we got our breath back, John turned thoughtful. “You know, the Fill is home for all these birds – we’re just casual visitors. Maybe you should skip going to the point for a few days. It would be the kind and generous thing to do.” So I did.

John is still my knight in shining armor. Kindness requires its own heroism, you know.

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