Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Chatting it Up

Yesterday's blog was about how Canada Geese will take turns acting as sentry for the flock as seen in this image. Science has trouble explaining this type of altruistic self-sacrifice in animals since it is out of the realm of the physical.

I enjoy filming geese. They are almost always studies in grace unlike some other birds. Great Blue Herons come to mind. One of the nice things about geese, unlike almost all other birds, is they will begin to chat it up when they are ready to fly away. A 'gaggle' of geese is actually recognition of the cackling that takes place in the flock and it increases significantly just before they fly. The reason I say "nice" is because this behavior warns you they are going to fly so you can be ready with your camera.

Geese do not have to open their bill very much to vocalize. Tundra Swans are the same way. They have a beautiful flutey voice, but you can hardly tell which one is making the noise because they barely open their mouths. If you look carefully in this photo, you can make out at least three geese that are cackling when the shutter closes.

The volume of chatter actually increases as they begin to get airborne and continues until the flock becomes settled in flight. Then the chatter gets dialed back with, usually, only a couple of geese honking. Or the flock can fall completely silent.

Canada Geese are among the waterfowl that need a little bit of runway to get airborne. Some birds can burst directly into the air from land or water, but many need to run along the ground for a few steps.

This is the time of year when geese gather into large flocks and I love to film them, especially in flight. I'm always looking for that defining standout shot. So, if you read this blog regularly, you can expect to see more goose photos over the winter.

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