Best way to handle this

Discussion in 'Geese' started by desertdarlene, Apr 3, 2011.

  1. desertdarlene

    desertdarlene Chillin' With My Peeps

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    OK, so we have these domestic breed geese at my lake as I have written about before. Four are pretty much OK and stay out of people's way, but two sets tend to be aggressive. One set, in particular, is hanging out right where the killdeer and other shorebirds that I usually observe hang out. Also, they like to sit close to the walking paths and fishing areas that go along the lakeshore. So far, I haven't had any real problem with those two, until today, except the usual threats.

    Today, I was walking along the path to where the killdeer were and those two were right up on the path. I wanted to walk right past them, but one was threatening to bite. Usually, what I do is stand still and he will eventually move off and I can continue on my way or down to where the killdeer are etc. Well, today, he decided to bite. At first, he started gently and I would push his head back, but he continued to do it. Finally, he gave me a hard bite and I shoved him away. He left me alone after that and he and his friend comforted each other and calmed down before leaving.

    I hate putting my hands on them because: 1. they're not my geese (they're feral) and 2. I don't want someone to say I am abusing them 3. If something were to happen to them, I don't want to have people suspect me of doing whatever it is that happened to them. 4. I love birds and animals and don't ever want to be seen as an animal abuser

    So, what's the best way to handle them and still get to see my killdeer and shorebirds? I sure hope they're not trampling their nests.

    P.S. I also know it's breeding season and these are both ganders, but they've been like this for 7 months now. They've also been hanging out in totally inappropriate areas (like the little league fields on game/maintenance days) and I've heard of kids throwing rocks and abusing them. It's also unlikely that they will ever be removed from the area and if they were, more would be dumped there.

    Yes, I know I can just avoid them and come back when they leave, but I don't feel I should have to. I've been observing killdeer at that spot for a long time with no problem until recently (when they told the guy who used to feed the geese in another area of the lake to stop doing so).
     
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2011
  2. etruscan

    etruscan New Egg

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    Thats nice of you to take the geese's well being into consideration. I think your best bet is to not let it get to the point where they get their beaks on you and you have to physically push them away.

    Im no geese behavioural expert or nothing, but i think like most animals its about intimidation. You're in their space as far as they're concerned, they want you to know they dont like it, and as geese pretty much all they can do is make noise, flap, and bite. If i were you, I would take the 'offensive' as soon as they notice your approach and head on over to deal with you. That is, make your arms big, talk low and loud and take some very deliberate steps in their direction, rushing them if you have to. There should be no way any goose in any state would actually go toe to toe with you, they ought to back right down (unless you happen to be less than three feet tall). I know if they are your own geese and you need to establish dominance long-term you can take hold of them and pin them down and all sorts of things, but clearly thats not the case here. Im certain that if you just make yourself big and come at them, they will turn tail and run. (mind you, the minute you turn your back they'll probably come at you again if you're not already well away from them )

    Should you have to physically interact with them to get them off you, your best bet is to grab them firmly by the neck and shoo them away. As soon as you grab them they'll chill right out, at least in my experience. Loose grip, nothing rough. You wont harm them in any way whatsoever, and they'll likely remember it next time they see you. But you shouldnt ever have to do that, if you take the offensive since you know now that given then chance they'll go so far as biting you. Remember, to them you are the intruder, they dont understand they arent supposed to be in a given place nor should they, given that the term 'pea brain' is kindof a compliment ; )

    Good luck!
     
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2011
  3. desertdarlene

    desertdarlene Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks! That's kinda what I've been doing more or less except I do tend to tolerate it when they just nibble as I know that's often a way they get to know you and is often not aggressive. I've done the wave my arms rush thing and most of the geese won't back down if I do that (though they did used to, at first, when they didn't know me). These geese are so used to people dancing around them, afraid, and I refuse to do that.

    I am going to think more about what you said, though, and see if I can re-tool some of those techniques again and get them to move before something happens next time. I just feel so bad if it gets to the point where I have to grab them or push them away.

    I actually do like all of these geese (most of the time) and would be very angry if someone tried to hurt them, but they are hard to like sometimes.

    ETA: Rushing at them might not be a good idea because I will also scare off the other birds. Also, I am always hesitant to do that because some animals will fight back.
     
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2011
  4. Shiloh Acres

    Shiloh Acres Chillin' With My Peeps

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    There are times I have to catch hold of my ganders' necks and a couple of times I've even had to scoop them up.

    Goosedragon reminded me of something though. I used to use a long white very visible pole as sort of an arm extension to control their movements when they were small. I learned that first on a small flock of ducks, and found they respond amazingly well to just pointing the stick to the right or left -- they will turn the opposite way. Pretty much always. My duck-herding was MUCH simplified when I learned to use a pole as an arm-extender, and since I raised a fair number of goslings last year, I used it on them too.

    I haven't herded them in a long time, and I forgot the pole. Goosedragon mentioned it in a recent post (traditional use of one) and since I've got the whole breeding-aggressive-ganders thing going on, I thought I'd try it. I quickly found that if I carry the pole horizontally between me and them, they keep away or veer off. I'm not threatening them in any way with it -- I've never done that. And actually there is much less hissing and zero charging when I carry it. I think they actually feel more secure when I have it.

    Anyway, I'm realizing those geese may never have been trained in any way, and you don't want anyone to think you're being aggressive to them with a stick. But ... well, if it were me, I'd give it a try. It's always worked universally for me on all my ducks and geese, so I think maybe I'm only taking advantage of some instinctual behavior.

    I like a long, thin PVC pipe.

    Edited to correct typos.
     
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2011
  5. desertdarlene

    desertdarlene Chillin' With My Peeps

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    At another park, I've seen someone with a walking stick use it to prevent geese from rushing at him or past him as he walked by. Basically, when they started to cross his path, he would gently hold out his stick and hold them back. I don't know if I want to do that because when I saw it, I was sure the rangers at that park would say something about it if they saw him do it.
     
  6. etruscan

    etruscan New Egg

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    Wow, they're not impressed with the waving arms and advancing on them, hey ? I guess, yea, if they're used to people being around all the time then that tricks probably well used up.

    I guess you might try and bribe them off... but honestly im not so sure you want to be doing that, and its likely illegal. Might make it worse, throwing them a piece of bread or whatever as you try and make your way past them.

    If it boils down to whos more afraid of whom, then i hate to say it but dominating them might be your only route. I see how carrying a stick works, very visual, obvious queue for a very visual animal, but then you'd have to bring the stick and worry about how it looks to others etc etc and that just doesnt seem like a good option in a public place. Plus, it might give other less intelligent people the wrong idea.

    I guess if you're seeing these geese often enough in your travels, you'll either have to put up with their behavior or modify it by any of the suggestions in this thread that appeal to you. Either way, i wouldnt bother trying until mating season is well passed, as you're just fighting too much built-in instinct to know if you're really progressing with your..ah.. behavioral experiments ; )

    Good luck to you tho, and good on you for trying to find the best way to co-exist with the geese.
     
  7. goosedragon

    goosedragon Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 28, 2009
    Central NC
    Quote:Thanks Shiloh, for giving me credit on the herding stick, but it was something that I had noticed in the low country of Europe. Desertdarlene are you of an age that you could stand being seen with a cane? Canes are often used with cattle in the USA. I am 68 and use something called a shooting stick when I take to the field. I walk alright but I can't stand in one spot before my legs start to feel weak. Enough excuses, about the shooting stick or cane. A shooting stick looks like a cane but has a 'D' handle (like a short handled shovel) on the top, when you need some support the top splits and unfolds to provide a minimum seat to support your rear end, the shaft and your own two legs form a three leged stool. mine is made of metal since I am a big heavy man.
    Your park geese are probably used to people waving arms etc but I think a cane might be new to them. Geese do not like new things that might hurt them (If a few people had smacked the geese down you wouldn't have this problem). I expect if you just display the cane the geese would back off, if not use a poking motion not a swinging motion. Poking looks minor to people but geese always poke and understand that motion and feeling of being poked. If fishing is allowed a pole is another option.
    I have a question on Killdeer birds, you call them shore birds, I grew up on the shores of Lake Ontario (Canada-NY) border (We call it the North Coast!) anyways I never saw killdeers on the beach, they always were on the strip between the fence line (bushes) and the culivated crop areas. They were great birds to watch, when nesting they would put on a great show, faking a wing injury and starying just out of reach as they led us AWAY from the nest, calling "Killdeer" "killdeer" to keep our attention. I spent about 6 months in San Diego, winter 60-61 (NAVY)and never saw a Killdeer. Are there lots of them now and do they stick to beaches and nest above the high water mark or are they a field bird there. ~gd
     
  8. Miss Lydia

    Miss Lydia Running over with Blessings Premium Member

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    we live in the northern mountains of North Carolina and we have killdear that nest here. We even had a pair nest in our churches parking lot one year. [dirt/gravel] we blocked it off so noone would accidently run over the nest. then going into our small town theres a strip of grass and I've seen them there but of course that gets mowed so I always wonder how they ever get a brood hatched. any way they are cool little birds..
     
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2011
  9. desertdarlene

    desertdarlene Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks for the responses. I'm not quite at an age where I could use a cane, but I could get a walking stick if I can find one cheap enough for an unemployed/self employed person can buy. But, fishing poles are allowed and I think that's how people who fish there have dealt with them. If permits weren't so expensive, I would take up fishing there and save some ducklings from the bass that often grab them (but most people there don't catch much).

    I wouldn't try to bread or feeding route because I think part of the problem is that I used to hang out with the guy who used to feed the geese, so they associate me with food even though I rarely fed them. So, they're less afraid and more likely to come up to me because of it. I don't feed them anymore nor do I feed any other bird if I know the geese would see me doing it.

    Killdeer (and spotted sandpipers) are technically shorebirds, but they're very adaptable. They tend to like to be within walking distance of fresh water, but a drainage ditch or pool would be fine for them. I don't see many at the beaches anymore, mostly at river mouths, golf courses, airports, and other places with big lawns/fields. At this lake, during breeding season, they rarely leave the water and usually nest about ten to fifteen feet from the shore. In the winter, they hang out in the little league fields.
     

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