Dec 18, 2011


Ron Eby with goose after very successful capture.

This morning - Duane and Rebecca met up with Sammarye, Deb, and Ron at Shoreline Park in Mountain View to search for crippled geese. Surprisingly, there were numerous  geese sporting old injuries. One goose was missing an eye, others had various wing and leg issues.

We located the one that Sammarye and Mary initially responded to last week. It looked as though its limp had improved, so we decided to leave it alone.

We also found the other goose with droopy wings and disheveled appearance. We decided to try after him. Here is Ron's account of the rescue:

First thought was we were dealing with 'park geese' that were likely accustomed to being fed by people. Feeding the group quickly confirmed this.

By taking the time to study the behavior of the birds, we confirmed the target bird wanted to feed, but was wary of the other geese. It was attacked and harassed each time it approached to feed.

At that point, I felt we could entice it close if we could bait it in away from the main group.

I moved away from the group towards the target goose as Rebecca continued to distract the other geese. When the target goose had a clear shot to me, I extended my hand and it responded immediately. I did not throw bait, which would have attracted other geese, but rather just held it in my hand where the target goose could see it.  

Fortunately, it was able to approach without being harassed. It was quite hungry and much more afraid of the other geese than me. I continued to feed it, just small bits and sometimes an empty hand just to keep it focused. 

Even though it appeared to be within reach, I resisted the urge to grab it. Instead, I worked on a strategy that offered a better chance of success. 

With Duane standing nearby, motionless and facing away, I felt I could manipulate the bird's body to within reach for a safe body-grab. When I thought the bird was comfortable feeding from my hand, I started to move it over, keeping its head facing me so it wouldn't notice Duane as he began to move.

With the goose entirely focused on my hand, even grabbing my thumb, Duane was able to capture it with a body-grab, covering the wings, while I secured the bird's head. 

The capture was completed without a single honk and without alerting the other geese, and it was done without using a net that would have made future captures more difficult. 

My point isn't that this is the most effective method, but that by considering the environment, observing how the birds react, making a plan, being patient, and most importantly working as a team, you enhance not only the chances of a successful capture, but do it in the least disruptive manner to the target and other nearby birds.

Looking forward to future successes.


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