Canada Goose, Branta Canadensis

by Rachel Creager Ireland

The plant world is going quiet this time of year, but most of the animals must continue their daily lives through the winter. Among birds, some leave for warmer climes, while the Canada goose is just arriving.

I believe there are a few here in the Flint Hills year round, but in autumn their population swells. It’s not uncommon to see them winging in the late afternoon or early evening, as they move from gleaning the fields by day to their watery bed for the night.

The Canada goose was hunted nearly to extinction in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Indeed, it was thought by some to be completely extinct for many years. Some remnant populations were discovered in the 1960s, and after that efforts were begun to restore this fine, large bird to its former glory in Kansas. In the 1980s, ten thousand birds were released into the wild by the Kansas Fish and Game Commission. By the turn of the century, they were quite common in many places, and in fall and winter Chase Countians saw them daily. When you see geese flying and honking in their signature V formation, think what it would be like if they were gone again, the skies empty and quiet.

Ted Andrews associates geese with stories and storytelling. He says that goose is a fine totem for writers, and recommends writing with a goose quill pen. This is said to stimulate the imagination and aid in working through creative blocks.

Geese mate for life. How many humans can sustain such fidelity? Andrews also recommends sleeping on bedding made from goose feathers to promote marital fidelity and fertility.

I’m sure there is much, much more to be learned from goose. Much of what we learn from animals must be based in personal experience, however. When do you see them,  do they talk to you? Listen with you heart to hear their message.