(Reprinted from Nov. 30, 2001 Suburban News)

The sun was just peaking over the eastern horizon when lots of commotion and honking could be heard down by the lake. It caught my attention and curiosity to a high pitch. It was a flock of over 20 Canadian geese lifting off the lake surface and getting into formation for their flight that day, towards warmer climates.

With their morning flight master honking commands – not unlike a drill sergeant for the moment – the flock formed quickly into a “V” formation behind him. Later in their flight, when he tires, he will drop back and another leader will take over.

It always amazes me to see these 17-to-20-pound birds with a body shape of a Boeing 747, lift off the water and move in such precision through the air. Its flight feathers overlap tightly on the down-stroke but turn and allow the air to pass through on the up-stroke.

Only a few weeks ago, in early fall, Canadian geese were grounded for as much as two weeks when nature made them go through an annual molt. During this period it loses its flight feathers all at once.

Sometimes this molt period will take place on a golf course, bathing beach or a cut corn field. They can be messy anywhere on land. They don’t like human company, and with their head lowered and wings flapping, they can drive most anyone away. Some golf courses have used trained dogs to keep them off the course.

Its food consists mostly of roots, left over grains and some insects.

Most nights a Canadian goose will float in a quiet spot on a lake or pond. Its worst enemy is a snapping turtle. The turtle will grab the goose’s foot and pull the bird under water. When drowned, the goose becomes great food for a snapping turtle.

When hiking or just outdoors, lift your eyes to the sky and sometimes you will be blessed with a view of a formation of these wonderful birds as they head for their winter home.

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