The magnificent migrations of local birds | Local Sports


We have a family of geese on our pond. Over the past couple of weeks the youngsters have been taking flying lessons.

They started by just flapping their wings. A few days later those birds were running across the pond, beating their wings and building up their muscles. This went on for several days.

Then one day the whole family walked up to our camper. They turned around and ran down the hill flapping their fully feathered wings and even got airborne for a few feet.

Every day the progress continued. They’ll fly across the pond to get the landing down pat. Finally, they flew across the meadow. This morning I heard them honking in the fog and the whole family flew in and landed safely.

Yesterday my wife and some friends were out floating on the pond. Suddenly, Pat heard some air movement sounds from wings flapping behind her. The three youngsters came over her head, no higher than a couple of feet off the water, and landed a couple of yards from her feet. They definitely got her attention.

These geese will never fly south like the huge flocks from Canada do in the fall. These are resident geese that will stay in the area and raise another family here next year.

I wouldn’t mind except they have to learn that my lawn is a no-poop zone. The problem is, they don’t listen. They constantly eat the grass and leave their droppings wherever they want.

One of the things I like most about fall is seeing the huge flocks of high-flying geese honking their way south in those giant “V” patterns. When I hear them, I always stop and look up.

Most of our songbirds go south for the winter, and hummingbirds are among them. It’s hard to believe that a tiny hummingbird can fly all the way to Florida, Mexico, and Central America.

Many of them fly clear across the Gulf of Mexico. It’s a non-stop flight of about 500 miles that takes them 18 to 22 hours. They travel at speeds of up to 35 miles an hour.

Then there’s the monarch, which flies all the way to Mexico.

The amazing thing is how these birds always know where they’re going. Geese will fly the same route and land on the same bodies of water or the same grain fields to feed every year. Without a map or GPS, most people couldn’t accomplish such a feat.

I take that back: most today couldn’t make it from here to Florida and back if their cars didn’t have navigation.

I could go on, but I want to share another, totally different story.

I got an email from one of my skiing buddies. He was in Nova Scotia, Canada, and witness something that seemed very surreal.

Bill was standing near a pond on his family’s land. Suddenly, a good-sized frog jumped out of the water and grabbed a bird the size of an English sparrow. He watched it eat that bird head first.

Now, I’ve never heard of such a thing, but Bill is an educated man and had spent most of his life in the outdoors. At first I doubted it, but then I Googled it.

It seems that bullfrogs are predatory animals and will eat anything they can capture and swallow. Worms, snakes, other frogs, small turtles, and any small mammals that get in range is a fair game. That sure surprised me, and I’m sure it surprises you as well.

What’s happening?

Next week is the Otsego County Fair in Morris. On Tuesday, Aug. 2 there’s a free show in the Conservation area. Cindy Page will have a live raptor show at 3, 4, and 6 pm I’ve seen it before. She has numerous hawks and owls. Don’t miss it, and the kids will love it.

Forest Ranger Petit and Smokey the Bear are expected to be there on Thursday afternoon.

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