August 4, 2011 —
For the past several weeks, a lone snow goose has joined a local flock of Canada geese in the Town of Tusten, NY. While the flock initially resisted the presence of the intruder, the mostly white goose persisted and has successfully been integrated into the flock.
According to the property owner, the snow goose has not yet attempted to fly. “It is funny to see it join the pre-flight practice stampede with the adult geese flapping their wings at a pitch run towards the pond, and there in the middle are all the gosling geese and one adult snow goose running for all they are worth,” she said.
One day when the woman accidentally startled the snow goose, it bolted for the safety of the pond, but running full tilt, not flying as the adult Canada geese do when frightened. “It wasn’t even holding its wings out like the immature geese do before they learn to fly,” she said.
New York Department of Environmental Conservation biologist Pat Vissering explained that snow geese migrate through the Upper Delaware region twice a year, once south and then back again north. “It is not unheard of, but is not what I would call common for snow geese to join a flock of Canada geese,” said Vissering.
“The bird may have been injured, which would explain why it does not fly when approached. Or it could just have gotten exhausted on its flight north, got disconnected from its flock/family group and ended up with the Canadas. It is possible that if the bird can fly it will hook back up with its own species when the snow geese come honking back through our area this fall.”
If unable to fly, the goose may be able to receive care from a licensed wildlife rehabilitator, said Vissering. “But geese are notorious for being difficult to catch even if they can’t fly. When they are flightless they tend to stay close to the water’s edge to escape to safety when they are threatened. They don’t use the term ‘wild goose chase’ for nothing.”