Naming and Feeding Geese
Earl Rosenbloom Ph.D.
My wife and I enjoy feeding geese. Since geese tend to stay in the same location for several months we are able to identify individual geese by their markings or their personalities. While geese have many things in common, each goose has his or her own personality. Therefore, it is natural to assign names to individual geese.
There is the occasional naysayer who will complain about both feeding and naming geese. These naysayers are wrong. We feed the same geese every day. The geese are smarter than most people give them credit. As soon as we enter the park they rush up to us with unmitigated joy. However, they ignore or avoid other visitors to the park, whether they carry brown bags or not.
There are several good reasons for feeding geese. People who feed geese and ducks do not complain about their poop. Remember that cities are murdering geese because people complain about their poop. People who mingle among geese while feeding them only speak about their beauty and the joy they bring them. They do not complain about the poop and do not even seem to notice it. If more people feed them, for example, in the city of Rochester, MN, you don’t have the city wanting to kill geese.
Another reason for feeding geese is that it provides a small dose of happiness to a magnificent creature that endures a difficult and perilous life.
A third reason is that it lessens the geese’s need to fly out of the city to feed in farmers’ fields. While hunting is not permitted inside the city, it is permitted in rural areas. Each autumn morning when we see our geese flying out of the city we feel our geese are going out to war. Not all of them will come back.
A fourth reason is that it helps the geese during their fall migration. By feeding them, they have less of a need to make dangerous stops during their migration.
Finally, feeding geese has an effect upon younger children. Children often love feeding geese. When the children interact with geese they learn to appreciate what wonderful creatures these geese are. These children are less likely to grow up to be hunters. The children may even influence their parents to be against hunting.
My wife and I recently became vegetarians. Our journey from meat eater to vegetarian was influenced by our interaction with geese. It is easy to eat goose. It is impossible to eat Harriet the goose that we hand fed. By naming geese it reminds us that animals are creatures that can experience happiness and can experience pain.
WHAT AND WHAT NOT TO FEED GEESE AND OTHER WATERFOWL:One thing people feed geese is old moldy bread. Unfortunately, many geese will ingest the moldy bread and inhale the spores. These animals can become sick with a lung infection (fungus) that eventually causes death. Never feed waterfowl moldy bread or anything with mold. Please feed grains & corn more than bread, as bread has not much nutritional value and can fill the bird up as it expands with water. Most birds should be smart enough to balance their diet but we do have some animals in the wild that are "junk food addicts". Bread could play a part in angel wing but it can also be caused by many other factors including feeding duck/goose starter with 21% protein. High protein diets given to goslings over two weeks old can cause angel wing. Duck/goose/chicken scratch under 17% protein is a better diet. Angel wing can happen more commonly when the goslings are being rehabilitating by inexperienced people, where the geese are not offered a variety of food when confined in a cage.
RELATED ARTICLE: Should you Feed Geese in the Winter? By Lisa Tretiak