Mudcat Café message #2615586 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #117366   Message #2615586
Posted By: bobad
21-Apr-09 - 10:00 AM
Thread Name: BS: Birdwatching 2009
Subject: RE: BS: Birdwatching 2009

Canada geese put one over on American eagle
By Bryan Brasher (Contact), Memphis Commercial Appeal
Sunday, April 19, 2009

BEAVER DAM, Miss. -- With mating season in full swing for Canada geese, people have no doubt seen the tall, majestic-looking birds nesting on the ground all over the Mid-South.

But Mike Boyd can show you something you probably haven't seen when it comes to geese.

Canada geese have claimed squatters' rights to this eagle's nest at Beaver Dam Lake near Tunica, Miss.

On the edge of his property at historic Beaver Dam Lake, just outside of Tunica, Boyd can point to a pair of Canada geese sitting in an eagle's nest more than 80 feet off the ground.

The geese didn't wait for the eagles to leave and then claim an abandoned nest. They actually fought off the eagles and have forcefully occupied their home for two weeks despite their constant protests.

"At certain times, you can go out there and see the eagle sitting on the limb above the nest looking down at the geese," Boyd said. "Believe me, that eagle is not happy."

Susan Winston of Helena, Ark., also noticed the home-wrecking Canada geese, along with her friends, Jane Woodie and Patty Smith.

The trio is passionate about photographing nature and wildlife -- and Winston said this scene is one of the most fascinating things they've ever captured on film.

"We visit this eagle's nest frequently this time of year in hopes of seeing the birds and their growing family," Winston said. "We have photographed the eagles mating, bringing food to the nest, feeding their young, and we've watched as the eaglets prepared for their first flight."

But this nesting season, the show has been different.

"This year has really yielded disappointment," Winston said. "But then, we've also been amazed at the bizarre events we have documented each visit. We never expected to see geese just take over the nest."

Canada geese usually nest on the ground in tall grass near the water's edge, often on small points or islands.

People also construct specialized nesting platforms for the geese -- but not 80 feet off the ground. The platforms are usually built out of floating logs and anchored on the water's surface in a place that will be suitable for mating pairs.

The female goose chooses the nesting location and builds the nest, lining it with her own feathers for warmth. The male goose stands guard, chasing off intruders.

In this case, the intruder has been the very eagle that constructed the nest.

"I've never seen anything like it," Boyd said. "I've talked with a lot of people, and they've never seen anything like it either."

Boyd said he has labored under the mistaken impression for years that bald eagles are the tougher of the two species.

"I thought a bald eagle would just absolutely throttle a Canada goose," Boyd said. "But that eagle has come back over and over again trying to reclaim its nest, and the geese won't give it up."

Actually, the bald eagle was denounced as a coward by Benjamin Franklin more than 200 years ago. Franklin favored the turkey over an eagle as the American symbol for that very reason.

Turns out, maybe the Canada goose deserved some consideration as our American symbol as well.