Canadian Geese Vocalizing | Fluid in ever-changing formation

Living presently in central Pennsylvania, in the autumn and winter time, one can’t help but notice the flocks of local geese flying by overhead. They tend to fly at dusk, and I presume dawn, but I’m rarely up that early !-)

flock of geese

flock of geese

They are in fact Canadian Geese.

Canada Goose, Wikipedia, Branta Canadensis

Canada Goose Wikipedia Branta Canadensis

flock Canada Geese,

flock of Canada Geese

They continuously communicate vocally with one another as they’re flying, each one of them calling out simultaneously. They are extremely loud. Here’s a sample of how they sound, no kidding, multiply that by 9! Hundreds fly by daily in large flocks, sometimes as large as 60 or more. You can hear them coming, believe me. At dusk, typically one after another flock flies by – just a few minutes apart from one another. Their formations are ever changing; continuously altering their positions in relationship to one another, gracefully and fluidly adapting in their formation.

The funny thing I’ve noticed a few times now, is the occasional small flock that flies by, in silence. What? How strange! I’ve seen this only a few times and believe I’ve figured out why. Those small groups flying overhead that are astoundingly quiet, are in the periphery of a larger flock nearby – which as always, are exceedingly loud.

geese, northwest

geese on the horizon moving northwest

My theory is that these small separate groups are deliberately remaining silent, in order to clearly hear the adjacent larger flock nearby, which they haven’t yet caught up to.

It’s funny, I imagine them saying to one another, “shhhh, shut up…” so that they can keep their attention focused on the direction of the larger flock; keeping them within their radar.


geese flying above tree in their arrow formation

I like to draw analogies between different animal species and humans. The tactic of the geese is not unlike humans, they want to call out attention to themselves, chatting, talking and listening to any cues. And the most successful way to navigate through any path, is to remain flexible and resilient.

According to wikipedia, the Canada Geese are

extremely successful at living in human-altered areas, Canada geese have proven able to establish breeding colonies in urban and cultivated areas, which provide food and few natural predators, and are well known as a common park species.”

You see them in local farm fields and parks routinely. I see them flying overhead daily, you can hear them coming!

geese, dusk

flock of geese at dusk

pair of Canada Geese, Branta Canadensis

pair of Canada Geese
Branta Canadensis

Penn State University Extension campus describes these local Canadian Geese.

Excerpted from this link above:

Canada geese mate for life, with both parents caring for, and aggressively protecting, their young. Canada geese in Pennsylvania consist of both migratory and nonmigratory populations. Migratory populations are the Atlantic Population and the Southern James Bay Population. These two populations nest in Canada and migrate south for the winter.

By contrast, the nonmigratory, or resident, population in Pennsylvania has grown from approximately 2,400 from 1955-60 to more than 150,000 in 1993. Adults in this population can begin breeding at age two and have a higher survival rate than migrating birds. The resident population consists of nonmigratory birds that nest and reside in the Mid-Atlantic states, including Pennsylvania, throughout the year.

I notice one of the links mentions them as a nuisance. I think they’re adorable, and enjoy listening to them and watching them! And I laugh to myself when I spot that occasional flock that are ardently silent.

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Carol Keiter, blogger




I contribute writings to each of my blogs, often in the same sitting. Hours later, I’ve finished this one.