We had a surprise snow goose visitor here a couple of days ago. She was palling around with a pair of Canada geese:

According to whatbird.com, a group of geese has many collective nouns, including a “blizzard”, “chevron”, “knot”, “plump”, and “string” of geese. We often see large blizzards of snow geese here over the winter, but they’ve been gone for several weeks now.

It was when I saw the two together that I realized the significant size difference between the species:

Wherever the pair of Canada geese would go, the little snow goose would follow:

Snow geese migrate north for the summer and breed in the Arctic regions of North America and eastern Siberia. I can’t help but wonder how our little surprise visitor was left behind.

No matter now. I’m sure her friendly Canadian cousins will take care of her until she’s reunited with her snow goose family.

3/1/13 update: Our surprise visitor wasn’t a snow goose, but rather a Ross’s Goose. http://identify.whatbird.com/obj/293/_/Rosss_Goose.aspx. Thank you, Patrick C!

Emmy getting out of her bath at 31° F:

Canada goose in the alfalfa field:

Gracie Belle and Buck:

Izzy, with her beautiful, blue eyes:

Colors in the barn:

As I’ve listened to the dozens and sometimes hundreds of Canada Geese that come to visit our pastures each winter, I haven’t been able to shake the notion that their vocalizations remind me of chimpanzees. The drama!

Now I know why.

I would have never guessed so many, but researchers have identified about 13 different calls from Canada Geese, which vary from loud greeting/alarm calls to soft sounds from feeding geese.

Chimps have specific calls to signify food and danger, and each chimp has a distinctive hoot that distinguishes it from the others. Chimps too can have loud greeting/alarm calls and can have soft sounds while feeding.

Goes to show that no matter the genus or species, vocal communication can convey a variety of emotions and intentions and often serves to affect the behavior of those that hear what’s being said. 

We visited the Rio Grande Nature Center State Park with my dad over the weekend. The park is about eight miles from us, and like Morning Bray Farm, is located in what we call the bosque, otherwise known as our cottonwood forest. The park has 270 acres of woods, meadows and farmland.

Would you look at that? Lenny was there. He blends so brilliantly into the landscape.

Evidence of beavers.

And turtles, which made us Marylanders feel right at home. Go Terps!

I loved watching the geese. They’re so full of personality.