Monday, March 7, 2016


It seems obvious that following posts on political scandals and an underachieving NHL hockey team the next topic should be...

Migratory birds.

Canada Geese have begun to arrive back in Winnipeg, with approximately 100 already observed at Oak Hammock Marsh. This is an unusually early return. The only earlier geese sighting on record was in 1994. Global warming aside... how 'bout 'dem geese?

Where did they come from? Geese are returning from the Southern United States and Northern Mexico, ie the blue area in the map below:

Why did they come here? The southern climates are not as amazing as they seem. There's not that much food - especially when you consider how many year-round competitors live in those environments - and there's more predators and parasites. They came here because there's a lot of food and there are fewer predators. Basically: Winnipeg's a great place to raise a family and there are jobs. Apparently it's worth the effort of flying a couple thousand kilometers.

Why did they come early? Early bird gets the worm, man. If you're a goose, you're after a few key things: an awesome nest, lots of delicious grass, seaweed, or perhaps garbage to eat, and to avoid predators and to have your kids (called gosselings) survive. But basically all these things come down to how good your nest is. It's got to be close to food and hidden from predators. Predators include: foxes, raccoons,  and crows.

How did migration start? This question is a little trippy one for me, since it's the opposite of how I always assumed.  As a friend was explaining to me earlier today, these birds trace their genetic lineage to birds in the Southern climates. This means they didn't start migrating to avoid winter, per se, but to take advantage of opportunities in the North during summer, as southern-origin birds. If you want something really trippy just look up how they know when to leave and how to navigate back to the same spots, year after year.

Fun fact: Geese are monogamous. That's right, they don't fuck around.

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