A Honkin’ Good Time


 (Based on some notes from a few years back, when I lived near The Thousand Islands.)

The Canada geese have been playing “Musical Back Yards”.  Last week, they mostly hung out in the neighbor’s yard.  This week, it’s been mine. I walk down the steps with my bag of Wonder Bread.   They come running like dogs, honking in anticipation.  It’s chow time.

The “young’uns” have now become surly teenagers.  Their goose down is falling out and their feathers are growing in.  They’re in their dorky phase, halfway between chicks and adults.  Not unlike the similar dorky phase that 15-year old humans must also suffer through.

About 75% of the chicks still talk baby talk.  

Cheep! cheep! cheep!   

Awww…isn’t that cute? 

Somewhat less cute are the ones who are learning to talk like their obnoxious parents

Hiss! Hiss! Hiss!  

You really have to admire these critters’ chutzpah.  They don’t like you.  They really don’t.  If they had claws and teeth, they’d probably attack you.  But they only have feathers and beaks, and they REALLY want your food.  

This puts their pea-sized bird-brains into conflict, and they don’t know quite how to act.  There’s something ridiculous about being scolded by a large bird who’s spitting crumbs at you from the bread you’ve just given them:  

“Hiss!  Hiss! Hiss!  I HATE YOU…May  I have some bread please?…Hissssss!  No, seriously.  I HATE YOU.  More bread, please…Munch. Munch. Munch.  Thank you.   BUT I HATE YOU…Hisssss! “

Ma Kettle starts running after another goose, hissing, with her head down.  Junior sees this, pauses for a few seconds, and joins in.  Yet another prime example of kids picking up bad behavior from their parents.   What is our youth coming to?

Alpha Flock has a monopoly on the bread market.  They surround me, the larger adults standing guard on the edges, preventing others from getting too close.  I try to move around to give everyone a chance to get fed but Alpha Flock moves with me, maintaining the perimeter.

Alpha Flock’s enforcer is a dominant male I call The Big Bastard.   He’s a jerk.  He wont’ take food from my hand.  He’ll just stand there hissing, bobbing his head back and forth like a cobra.  He always has feathers in his beak from biting other geese.  He routinely attacks other chicks 1/4 his size.   What an asshole. 

If anyone comes too close, the signal is given.  Honk!  Honk!  Intruder alert!  This gets Ol’ B.B. riled up and he chases the perpetrator, biting and hissing.   Mine, he says.  The bread is all mine.  Once he bit poor Aunt Gertrude on the butt and held on and wouldn’t let go. They ran across the yard like they were trying to start a conga line.  

Of all the geese, there are just two nice ones.   I call them Gentle Sandy and Little Elmo. These two don’t hiss…they just stand patiently, waiting for me to dole out the bread which they take gently out of my hand. 

They’re my favorites.  I end up giving them most of the bag.  The Big Bastard gets none.  Screw him.  

Feeding time is over.  I notice the grass around me is a vibrant green, due to all the fertilizer.   Cigarette-sized white and grey turds are everywhere.  The perimeter of goose shit is slowly approaching my house.  It used to be a good 20 feet away,  now it’s almost at my front door.  Does this mean I’m being accepted into the Alpha Flock? 

Perhaps so. 

For I am the Provider of the Wonder Bread.

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25 Comments on “A Honkin’ Good Time”

  1. Ellen Wilson Says:

    In another lifetime I used to band these little bird bitches. How I remember the hissing! And they grab onto your skin and twist it in their beaks. Because they can, and they are pissed you are messing with them. Around this time of year they lose their flight feathers so you can easily catch them (in MI anyway) so that’s when they get banded. They can still run pretty fast though.

    Good Picture.

  2. Friar Says:

    They’re everywhere in Eastern Ontario and Southern Ontario. In Hamilton and Toronto. I dont’ even think they fly south. They just stay home and eat frenchfries at Ontario Place. There’s goose crap everywhere.

    As far as animals’ temperments go, they rank up there as prick pilots, dont’ they? 🙂

  3. Who knew I needed this morning? I guess the Friar did. Smiling. Thanks.

  4. Friar Says:


    Critter stories always make me smile (Even if they’re only obnoxious geese).

  5. I love this story! Where I live, we have wild turkeys and they prance up and down the street like a gang making warbling sounds that I happen to believe is the same sound that dragons make. Gotta love the wildlife!

  6. Friar Says:

    I never saw a wild turkey in my life till a few years ago. They got hunted out in Ontario quite a while ago. But apparently Ontario traded some of moose to Michigan in exchange for some turkeys.

    Happy to note that the turkeys are thriving here. I’ve seen them in the farmers fields, just outside the big-city suburbs. They’re everywhere. It’s a great come-back story.

    Though they dont’ look too bright, do they? Perhaps a few fries short of a happy meal…

  7. Brett Legree Says:

    Geese make good guard animals, even better than most dogs… not so nice if they come after you!

    I saw a wild turkey yesterday, on the side of the road just east of Splat Creek… we almost ran over it 🙂

  8. Ellen Wilson Says:

    @Melissa – I didn’t know you have turkeys in California. That’s wild. Learn something new everyday.

    @Friar – You Canadians will trade Moose for anything. And yes, it’s true, some Canada Geese don’t migrate. There is a special name for these little unique non-migrating prick pilots, but I have forgotten what it is. Hissy little bitches. Or maybe I’m thinking of Mallards. Because some of them don’t migrate either. Why migrate when you have all of that bread?

  9. Ellen Wilson Says:

    Good God! This goose has 15 goslings! One more foray into the pond and the snapping turtles will come out.

    Wait until you see my snapping turtle picture. That is one hissy bitch of prick pilot turtle.

    Have you ever noticed all animals hiss when they are afraid? Except maybe rabbits. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a rabbit hiss.

  10. Friar Says:


    There were about 60 geese on my lawn at any given time. There wasn’t one square foot of grass that didnt’ have shit on it.

    When they migrated in the fall, I did a quick estimate of the flock by the river. It was over FIVE HUNDRED. Just near my house.

    Yeah, snapping turtles are the supreme prick pilots. I’d love to see your photo, though.

    I once saved a baby duck from one, once. The turtle had it by the leg. I waded out into the water and rammed a stick up the turtles’ arse. He let go and Junior swam home to Mommy.

    Hissing is the universal “F*#k off” signal in the animal kingdom. Never seen a rabbit hiss. But I heard one scream one. Like a little child. CREEPY.

  11. Friar Says:


    They sure look like nasty critters. I wouldn’t want to cross one.

    Wild turkeys here near splat creek? Cool!….never seen one up here yet.

    Are you sure it wasn’t a manager from the Wiget Factory you almost hit, though?

  12. Karen Swim Says:

    When I moved to Michigan from CA I got introduced to the geese here. They didn’t fly away for the winter, instead they sat on the pond when it froze into a block of ice. They poop alot, they can be really mean and they don’t back down. I have had arguments with them when they would not get off the roof of my car, watched one chase my sister around a tree (hysterical!) and been awed at their fortitude during the cold winter months.

  13. Friar Says:


    I used to get really excited about geese as a kid in Montreal. You only saw them from a distance, flying in a V-formation. It looked like Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom. It was a rare sight.

    Then, when I moved to Southern Ontario, there were everywhere. Like pigeons and sea-gulls. They lost a bit of their wildness, when I saw them eating french fries floating in the dirty water on the Toronto waterfront.

    You gotta admit, though. They’re resilient critters. They dont’ put up with any crap. I kind of admire them for that.

    Not all of them were jerks. Little Elmo and Gentle Sandy were adorable, I could even pet them.

  14. Kelly Says:


    We get your friends down in Delaware when they’re first nesting (February). They are adorable from a distance, marching and protecting their nests, hidden on rooftops (yup). They look like soldiers. I did a quick post on the first day of Spring about those handsome Canadians.

    However, if you get close, they are mean mean mean, so I hear. Your Aunt Gert had it easy.

    We have a couple who’ve stayed behind this year (what that means to global conditions, I don’t know). They’re up atop the office building across from us, SHOUTING at every poor sap who thinks he belongs in their building. Honk, honk. Quite a ruckus. I’m hoping they and their late babies will take off to locate your backyard soon.

    Wear cleats if you choose to walk in your own backyard. That stuff is slippery. Ugh!

    Love the photos. Congrats (?) on being accepted into the flock!



  15. Friar Says:

    Delaware? (So THAT’s where the little beggars go in February!).

    Thanks for the compliments on the photos, but they werent’ anything special.. Taken with my cheap-o camera one evening a few years ago.

  16. Friar Says:


    I just read this again. Hissy little bitches. You got me LOL.

  17. Hilarious! The meanies get a bonk on the head with bread from me. I’m still traumatized from when I was a little kid and the huge white ones with the bumped orange nose would chase me and chomp at my ankles! Uh! Maybe I looked like yummy bread.

  18. Friar Says:


    Thats’ awful! I m surprised you arent’ terrified of birds now.

    Reminds me of a story my friend told me (who grew up on a farm). When she was little, anytime they left the house, they’d have to carry a “goose stick”. To defend themselves against the big white goose that would attack them.

    Hissy little bitches, as Ellen says.

  19. Kelly Says:


    And I thought I put posts away for a while! A few years ago? You’ve got me beat. Some posts take me a couple of months to come back to, but not years…

    Delaware. 13 miles wide and and every bit as thrilling as that sounds. *sigh* But ooh, do we have geese. They COAT the north of the state in January and February.



  20. Friar Says:


    I never really wrote until 3-4 years ago, and my stories mostly sat on the computer.

    It was only a few months ago I started blogging. So there may be a bit of time-delay with some of these posts.

    Delaware. Hahah! Yes, tiny. I drove through it, once, on the interstate. My buddy refused to stop the car, so I can’t say I actually set foot on the soil.

  21. Kelly Says:


    I love your time delay. Very funny.

    I’m not a native, and if any natives read this I’m sure you like it. My life story’s a bit different and I’m stuck here for the time being which makes it a lot less palatable. That, and I HATE heat, which we have in abundance.

    Just after I moved here the state spent many millions (many) to get a new motto. The old one was “Delaware: The First State,” which though underwhelming, was true (they ratified the U.S. Constitution first. Most people even here in DE didn’t know what that meant, but this has bothered nobody for a long time.

    I could have helped them out for a couple thousand but they didn’t ask me. Anyway after their millions what they got was, “It’s good being first.” This manages to be distressingly similar to the old motto, moronically bland, AND rather arrogant all at once. It should have “Nah, nah, and you’re not first” at the end of it.

    It didn’t take me six months of living here to figure out what the motto is, in the minds of the nation (and in at least one Canadian mind too):

    Delaware: The Pass-Through State.


    Until later,


  22. Friar Says:


    I sure can get an idea of the heat. When I was down there, it was early-mid May. Already it was muggy and miserable..equivalent to one of or mid-summer heat waves. My God..if it’s this bad in May..what’s it like an August?

    “It’s good being first”. DUHHHHH. Pretty lame motto. When I read that, I scratch my head. Means nothing to an out-of-Stater like me.

    My favorite one is New Hampshire. LIVE FREE OR DIE!!! Heh heh heh. In your face, everybody! New Hampshire don’t put up with NO crap. 🙂

    I think Delaware might the equivalent to our New Brunswick (which I’ve heard dubbed the “Drive-Through Province”. It’s much bigger, but equally boring.

  23. Kelly Says:


    I love New Hampshire’s motto, and it’s so true of them. New Englanders generally (like me!) just don’t suffer fools gladly, and New Hampshireites and Mainers are the most independent of the bunch.

    At least NB is pretty.

    We get the occasional 85 degree day in January here. Hell hath no fury like 2pm on an August day in Delaware. Thank goodness I didn’t get stuck any further south than this. I am not built for it at all.

    Ah well, enough complaining about things I can’t change!



  24. Friar Says:

    That reminds me. I got a Live Free or Die bumper sticker that I’ve been meaning to put on my car. (A nice lady gave it to me for free at a collectibles store near North Conway).

    NB is pretty near the coast. In between there is a lot of unspectacular forest and farmland. Average hohum.

    85 degrees in January? Man..that’s INSANE. I know Delaware was south, but it’s not that far south.

    Actually, I read that up until the 1960’s, when British naval troops were stationned at Washington DC, they got extra “hardship pay”, because the climate was considered sub-tropical!

  25. […] spent two entire summers feeding Wonder Bread to dozens of geese that hung around my front yard.   I got to know them intimately, and believe me,  these critters are NOT nice.   The adults […]

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