Monday, July 7, 2008

Goose Parade

On Saturday Ken and I went down to Toronto Island for a walk in the sun.

One of the feature attractions of the Island fairgrounds is a small zoo called Far Enough Farm. It's got an odd assortment of barnyard animals and exotic birds: pigs, cows, horses, peacocks, pheasants, and emus. There is also a population of big white geese that run free. They usually stick to their territory around the farm, but they are unenclosed, and mingle with the wild ducks and Canada geese.

I know that we're not supposed to feed the birds, for a variety of sound and practical reasons. However, we do it anyway. Every once in a while I try to "do the right thing" and abstain, but it never lasts. I'm a bird-feeding addict. I'm sorry, but it's an illness and not within my control. Until I find a Twelve-Step Program, those lucky birds are getting handouts from me.

All the birds get excited when they see snacks. The ducks begin quacking up a storm. The Canada geese hiss and snap at each other as they compete to stand closest to us. Seagulls, sparrows, starlings, and red-wing blackbirds hover hopefully on the periphery. But the big white geese blow through the crowd like the bullies they are, scattering all the other birds to the wind. They stretch out their necks and honk. Their beady little blue eyes bulge. They flap their wings to make themselves look bigger. And if you try to stand your ground, they will bite. Hard.

The geese can move quickly. Their big webbed feet push them through the water with an impressive show of power. On land, they run. This is not quite so impressive. Their legs are only around four inches long, so they really have to motor just to keep up with a regular human walking pace. When they run on any paved surface, their giant webbed tootsies make comical, loud slapping sounds. Begging the pardon of animal lovers everywhere, sometimes we lure them into a run just to listen to their funny feet.

Usually we get a crowd of between two and four geese, and that's plenty. But this time, we hit the Goose Jackpot. We found a gaggle of them grazing in a quiet, grassy area. Ken broke out the bread, and we were off to the races. All he had to do was rustle the plastic bag and several of them immediately broke into a run towards us. We started dropping bread bits and walked backwards slowly. More geese caught wind of the excitement and joined the crowed.

As the crowd of geese grew, we made our way along a paved path, luring them forward. It was difficult to get an exact count, but at the peak I think we had close to twenty of them chasing us, backsides wiggling energetically. The sound of forty webbed feet slapping against the pavement in surround sound was unparalleled in my experience.

At a certain point I stopped suddenly, for some random reason, without realizing that there was a goose racing hot on my heels. I braked, he didn't, and his beak collided with my rear end. It took me a moment to realize: I'd just been goosed by a goose!

I've eaten Salade Nicoise in Nice, France; I've bought Oxford shoes in Oxford, England; and now I've been goosed by a goose. Let no one say that I don't live a rich and exciting life!


Karen said...

LOL. Goosed by a goose. Too funny. FYI - Canadian Geese are a HUGE problem in my area. They crap everywhere and parks are covered. So much money is wasted trying to chase them away.

Anonymous said...


Aurora said...

I'm glad you didn't get hurt! Geese have sharp teeth.
I see people feeding birds and squirrels every day at U of T. Almost all of the birdfeeders are male. Go. Figure.

Warped Mind of Ron said...

What a cheeky Monkey! Err... ummm... Goose I guess, but it just doesn't sound the right for some reason :P

You should be careful next time and make sure that the geese you gather are not of the flesh eating variety, sounds like you got lucky this time around.

Keera Ann Fox said...

I'm glad you broke the rule of not feeding the birds. Funny story!

Leighann said...

We have a bike path along the river nearby that has recently made it illegal to feed the ducks and geese. People were throwing out all sorts of bread, snacks, crackers, etc.... which was attracting rats. Not to mention the volume of feces covering pretty much everything!!

Nilsa S. said...

Goosed by a goose? Now that's hilarious! That's what you get for feeding them birds!

Sparkling Red said...

Karen: It's a shame that Canada geese have become pests. The prevalence of certain species and the extinction of others are all signs of how humans have messed up nature's balance. On one hand I see it from the human side, and on the other hand I question the perspective that devalues any animal or plant that is inconvenient to humans. The planet doesn't belong only to us, but to dandelions and raccoons too.
I know I'm not helping by feeding the geese. That's more just a juvenile, amusing indulgence I allow myself a few times per year.

Aurora: I don't let them eat out of my hand, although I used to. And I got bitten. They never broke the skin, but they had a strong pinch. Now, with bird flu a possibility, I don't touch them.

Ron: If those geese ever turned carniverous, humans wouldn't stand a chance. The geese would win for sure.

Keera: Alright! A rebel supporter. ;-)

Leighann: There's a woman who lives near me who puts out nuts and seeds for the cute birds and squirrels in large quantities every morning. Pigeons love her. One day I saw a big rat sneaking in for a serving. I wonder if she knows she's feeding the rats too.

Nilsa: Yup, those geese'll getcha!

Tink said...

Geese scare me. They're like the bullies of the bird family. I tried to outrun one once and it jacked me of my bread.

jameil1922 said...

um ew. i don't like birds. and certainly not being CHASED by them. lol. sorry.

Sparkling Red said...

Tink: I'm a little scared of the geese. That's where the thrill comes in, I guess. Other people drive fast or go bungee jumping. I put myself in front of a stampede of geese and run for it!

Jameil: I can see that this adventure would not be appealing to you. It lacked the element of Fabulosity. ;-)

Vanessa said...

I love to feed the birds too even though I know I shouldn't! It just makes them so happy.

onlooker said...

that was an interesting and humorous naration! :)could almost visualize the entire scene.

NicoleB said...

I love the visualization of you being goosed :D
*still grinning....* :D