Branta Canadensis


Canada Geese. We are up to our eyeballs in Canada Geese. This is the largest of what seem to be 4 broods on the lake. Judging from the droppings on my lawn, we’re in for a rough summer. I do not welcome their chin-strapped selves.

The good news? Our neighbor’s son will be visiting from Colorado soon. He’ll be staying at the lake for an extended period. He has two children and two Labrador Retrievers. We’ve given the pups free rein on our property. Hallelujah!

We miss Bailey!

We are up to our eyeballs in Canada Goose goslings. Until this spring, our neighbor Bailey the Brave found great sport in seeing to it that the little green slimy tootsie roll production teams didn’t hang out on our property. But she’s not living next door anymore. We really miss our personal Golden Retriever goose guard.

You see how these adults are laying low in the water…kind of slinking don’t ‘ya think? I’d spent chunks of the afternoon chasing them away from our shoreline. Nothing too mean. A few loud shouts of “Scram!” A few hand claps. A few fast runs to the water’s edge wildly waving my arms at them. All measures are only temporarily successful. They bypassed our grass on this swipe through the bay, though.

This weekend I scooped up pounds of poop–apparently a week’s production. I tired myself out picking up their droppings.  So, I sat in a comfy recliner and took a nap. When I woke, they were working their way through Bailey’s old stomping grounds. While I’d slept, they’d enjoyed our (temporarily) poop-free lawn. The evidence of that was apparent in several sections of lawn. Sigh.


The enemy is Canada Geese. Actually, they are not the enemy. Their mass quantity of slimy droppings are the enemy. Geese look so impressive, floating around on the lake. Then you hear them honk and you wish you hadn’t. Their gaggle of goslings look so cute bunched up and swimming between mom and dad. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten. Wow. Where are those hungry pike and snapping turtles anyway? OK, just kidding. So they swim along, heads and necks all bobbing in unison looking kind of goofy, kind of cute. They come ashore to eat grass. An adult (sometimes two) stands guard, eating a bit but mostly watching. Meanwhile, their rapidly growing offspring stuff their beaks so fast you have to kind of marvel. Then you remember picking up about 100 piles of goose dropping and you wonder why Bailey, the neighbor’s dog, is falling down on the job.

Headley is a gator head with sparkling jewel eyes that reflect sunlight. He is guaranteed to keep water fowl away. He bobs around in the waves, even squeaks occasionally as his styrofoam head scrapes the bungee cord. But, alas poor Headley, the gator who comes with an overpriced tag, doesn’t do a bit of good. Not a bit. Not even at first. You would think at least at first it would have worked.  Almost the first night Headley was in the water, a pair of American Black Ducks decided to spend the night on the dock. I guess they wanted to keep him company and welcome the new guy to the neighborhood. Supposedly gators eat young water fowl, somewhere, and the breed memory will take over and your property will be fowl/foul free. Not so. Not in Michigan anyway. Canada Geese swim right by those sparkling jewel eyes on their way to breakfast on the lake house lawn. And lunch. Until I come running out with my broom.

Bailey & Trigger

discussOk, so you’re cute.  But they gave me the kerchief to wear because I’m better than cute.  I have a job around here.   I’ll teach you how it’s done, because cute doesn’t last forever.  I see the size of those paws.  You’ll need  to earn your keep.  Lay low at first.  Let them get close.


No barking.  No barking.  I said no barking.  Not yet.  Listen up and shut up.  Ok.  Now.  Now.   Show ’em who’s boss.


No.  No.  Ignore the chipmunk.  IGNORE THE CHIPMUNK!  Canada Goose paws are about to touch our grass!

failed1“I’m sorry.  I said I’m sorry.  I’ll do better next time.  You’re the boss, Boss.  I saw that little striped thing running for his hole by the bird feeder and I just couldn’t help myself.  Are those little striped things tasty, Boss?  Did you ever catch one? Did you ever eat one?  I ate one of the finches last week.  Finches are not tasty at all.  But the little striped things, they look like they might be tasty.  What are those little striped things called, Boss?”

Chipmunks, Trigger.  Chipmunks.

“Chipmunks.  Oh.  Sorry.  That’s what you meant.  Sorry, Boss.”

Father’s Day Long Lake Drama

bald-eagleAs you can tell from the snow on the Hillman airport, this is not yesterday’s (Father’s Day) eagle photo.  Yesterday no camera captured the drama on the west shore of the big part of Long Lake, not far from the narrows.  We watched from our dock on the eastern shore. “Look, that’s a bald eagle flying over the lake, isn’t it?”   “Definitely, see his tail feathers?”  ” Yep, and that’s definitely a white head.”  As my son and our friends watched, the eagle swooped down and grabbed something from the lake.  It flew off with a Canada Goose gosling in its talons.  The geese started honking loud. One adult flew up and charged the eagle.  Startled, apparently, the eagle dropped its prey back into the lake from a height of about 100 feet.  We saw the splash.  The eagle circled and seemed to be considering trying again. Continued loud honking.  The eagle did not make a second snatch. The geese paddled off.

Our national bird didn’t get picked for the job as a symbol for tame.  A healthy eagle killing to eat is not a newsflash.   Still, this was pretty raw and Wild Kingdomish.  We’d seen that bunch of geese a few times over the weekend.  Four adults, five goslings already with the distinctive breed markings on their neck, and four younger goslings still decked out in their brown chick feathers. Even though the geese litter the lawn with their slimy tootsie roll droppings, I was still kind of rooting for  the geese.  Hard not to root for a parent fighting to protect its young.  Especially on Father’s Day.  The eagle seemed small for an adult.