I'm the adopted human to 4 domestic ganders, their wives and kids. We've known each other for about 3 years, when the boys had just gotten their adult plumage. They've never had a mean bone in their bodies toward me (toward each other, well, they're brothers : ) ) They live in the preserve a couple miles away. I bring the scratch and they run to surround me until we settle on an dusky, sunless bank where we can talk and catch up. It's a nice arrangement :) They have a healthy fear of men, dogs, horses and children (the park has it's share of truly cruel little buggers) and, naturally, they're wary of people they don't know. They stand guard for me and I keep my eyes and ears out for them and they occasionally employ me as a human aegis between themselves and anything scary, esp. horses, often paddling a bit away for safety's sake only to return shortly. They don't act up or make a big show regarding their territory and I haven't seen them go after people. They're truly good birds and I love them a lot.
So, my boys are all talkers, some more than others and they seem to somewhat specialize as to who uses certain vocalizations the most (and they're air traffic control men in the evenings when the flocks are landing.) The first little gander I ever met talks up a storm and I feel bad that after all this time I can't make out more of what he's saying. All the boys will alternate between the baby bird babble and contented chatter and humming when eating (this one bird, though, talks so much that while his brothers have no trouble keeping the seed in their beaks, this little guy has seed falling out all over. Verbalizing is a real priority for him and he keeps soft but steady eye contact as if to ensure he's being heard.) They all do the alternating calls between themselves and their spouses. Then there are the back and forth calls they use to keep contact with each other. They all do some form of what I call the dinosaur song (b/c it sounds like they're raptors.) There are so many other vocalizations beyond what I've mentioned and body language, too. I've picked up the basics, but I'd really love to learn more.
I had linguistics back in college, but it's been a while and I haven't been able to break what they're saying into anything resembling phonemes yet, so I'm only sometimes picking up on the relationships between environmental triggers and goose speech.
Any goose-whispers out there?
Thanks so much!
p.s. Why is so much that's written on geese framed in terms of aggression or territorial responses? I can't see how they're any less mild than any other birds, really. Back east where I grew up we knew Canadian geese were messy and could nip if hungry, but that's why we were taught to respect the geese. The same with swans (who were sometimes moodier than the geese) and ducks, even blue jays can be pretty territorial. Our grandparent's chickens occasionally had to wear chicken glasses, but it doesn't seem like any of these birds are disproportionately aggressive. Just wondering why geese have gotten such a bad rap on one hand, yet are praised for their golden egg status on the other :)