By: Wendy Langhans
It’s bittersweet when fledglings take flight.
This spring I watched two families of Canada Geese rear their chicks. Both families were always together – one set of parents with a single chick and another with seven. Normally, a female goose lays a clutch of 2-8 eggs, so I wondered what happened to the first family. Coyotes live nearby. Could they have eaten some of the eggs (or chicks)? Or perhaps a rattlesnake or a feral housecat was at work? But soon, my musings about mortality were set aside as I took delight in watching eight babies grow up.
I first saw them in late April. Stiff legged as any toddler first learning to walk, they chirped softly as they chased after their parents.
About 10 days later, they had put on a bit of weight. Learning to preen their feathers is an important life skill, much like a child learning to wash behind the ears.
But an afternoon nap remains a necessity.
Like a toddler’s arms and legs grow longer, so too a gosling’s wings grow longer and develop flight feathers.
Like all teenagers, young geese have a voracious appetite.
Physically they begin to resemble adults.
And finally, after about 70 days, they are ready to fly.
But will these families actually leave the area and head north in July? Probably not. Over the last 50 years, we are seeing more and more year-round residents. This is not necessarily a good thing. Canada geese browse on grasses and grains, which can lead to overgrazing in recreational areas and damage to the landscape.
So much for the “empty nest”. It’s bittersweet when fledglings take flight. But it can also be bittersweet when they don’t.
Perhaps it’s best when a fledgling does both. A few days ago our daughter called to tell us about her weekend in New York City. “I had dinner with Julia and Maria; Dan was in town too,” she said.
I smiled. “I think I still have a picture of you and Dan when you were babies.” Julia and Ellie met on the first day of Kindergarten. Maria has been her friend since the 3rd grade. And Dan’s mom and I were in the same parenting class in Palo Alto, California, 22 years ago.
Upcoming Outdoor Events:
Saturday, June 28, Placerita Canyon. Family Nature Walk, 10-11 AM, Animal Presentation 1-2 PM.
For more information and directions click here.
Sponsored by LA County Department of Parks and Recreation and Placerita Canyon Nature Center Associates.
Saturday, June 28, and every Wednesday, 8:00 am. Trail Maintenance Volunteers at Towsley Canyon.
Come join our trail maintenance volunteers for camaraderie and a heart-thumping workout. For more information contact Steve Ioerger at 661-291-1565.
Sponsored by the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority.
You can listen to stories like this every Friday morning at 7:10 a.m. on "The Hike Report", brought to you by your hometown radio station KHTS (AM1220) and by the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority.