Saturday, June 20, 2009

Canada Geese at Donaldson Park

As I mentioned in yesterday's Loose Feathers, the USDA is planning to capture and kill resident Canada Geese at 20 locations around New Jersey's airports. The article does not state how many geese will be killed under the plan. There are currently around 80,000 resident Canada Geese in the state. The goal of the program is to prevent airplanes from striking birds. How successful this project will be is uncertain. As in New York, resident geese are hardly the only birds a plane might strike, and lethal control presents more problems for other species. Geese also reproduce at a very high rate, with multiple clutches of a dozen or so eggs each breeding season.

Just how daunting a task it will be to reduce the state's Canada Goose population was apparent during a walk in my local park this afternoon. Even in this small park, during breeding season when goose numbers should be at their lowest, there was a flock totaling a little over 200 geese. Multiple ages were present, from adults to early-season goslings to more recent goslings. I am including a few images below.

The last two photos show some of the older goslings. These birds are molting out of their fuzzy juvenile plumage into mature plumage but still retain the fuzzballs on the tops of their heads.