Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Banded Geese in Donaldson Park

Back in December I encountered several banded Canada Geese in Donaldson Park. Since these geese are as close to domesticated as one can find in a wild animal, I was able to read the band numbers for four of the geese through my binoculars. (As I recall, several other geese were also wearing jewelry, but I had had enough of reading tiny numbers through binoculars after four!) Two of the four band numbers came from the same string. The geese whose bands I read seemed to be part of a cohesive group as they walked and foraged together.

At the time, I reported the band numbers and location to the Bird Banding Laboratory. Yesterday I received certificates for three of the bands. All three were banded in Middlesex County: two in Raritan Center and the other in South Plainfield (near the famous Iceland Gull hotspot). The Raritan Center geese were banded on the same day last summer when they were still too young too fly. Their apparent birthplace is about 4.5 miles from where I saw the geese (as the goose flies), so they clearly did not travel very far for their first winter. The South Plainfield goose was banded in June 2004 as an adult, meaning that it hatched in 2003 or earlier.

I am tempted to speculate that the South Plainfield goose nested in Edison last year and produced the two Raritan Center geese. Only the bander, if anyone, knows whether that is accurate. What is interesting to know, though not particularly surprising, is that Donaldson Park collects flocks of geese from nearby communities in the winter. Certainly some geese come from farther afield, like the Snow Goose and Cackling Geese I found on the GBBC. (Now those would be interesting bands to read!) But the regulars – the ones that ignore attempts at harassment – are likely to be local breeders.

I will post an update on the fourth banded goose when I receive more information.