My corner of Colorado is having a particularly colorful Autumn. The sun rise is later and later, but the dawn colors seem worth the wait. Tomatoes plants have wilted but the tree leaves are frosted and toasted to richness. I hear big weather is coming next week- so these are precious days.
Waterfront property isn’t all that common in Colorado; this pond is one of a series of marshes, tiny streams and ponds that wander across the prairie, guiding migrating birds. I used to be the sort of person who thought bird watching was for egg heads. My pond has patiently taught me to sit down and shut up.
This week groups of Canadian geese have been flying over- another sure sign of Autumn. Some lay over on the pond, resting for a day or two on the way to warmer places. These bird-visitors might be my very favorite. You could question the morals of herons or great horned owls, but never Canadian geese. They mate for life, and travel in a flock. (Horse-people call that a herd.)
Each time a flying “V” formation goes over, I pause and watch with some respect. They have more quadrille experience than most of us. With each flap of the wing, uplift is created for the birds that follow. Flying in this way, the flock has a 71% greater flying range than if each bird flew alone. They travel on the thrust of each other. (Sharing a common direction and working together makes the going quicker and easier. )
When the lead goose gets tired, he will take a break and fall to the back of the formation. Another will take his place and he can rest a bit as the formation continues on. (Many hands make light work.)
The geese in formation give a honk of encouragement to those flying ahead to keep up the good progress. Canadian geese are among the most talkative animals, with babies communicating to parents even before they are hatched. My pond is alive with their chattering! (Communication and encouragement enrich any expreience.)
No bird is left behind: if a goose is sick or wounded, another pair of geese follow it to the ground and stay to protect it- until it can fly again or it dies. Then they hook a ride with another flock. (Living by the Golden Rule. )
Bird-watching ends up being comforting to me, especially on fall days when the news is sometimes sad. It’s true that winter is on the way and ponds will freeze over. We could hibernate like depressed bears… The dark months can go slowly for barn-dwellers braced from the cold.
Canadian geese remind me there is comfort in numbers. Winter is quadrille season, horses and riders can fly in formation and share the warmth of a herd, the company of friends and cheers of support. You might need to be the lead goose for a bit, but it will be worth the effort later.
Anna Blake, Infinity Farm.