Posted by: marthabernie | May 16, 2013


UPDATE 5-15-13:  My scanner is up and running again, the weather has cooled down dramatically, and there have been no further power outages here in Hastings Ranch, Pasadena, California.  I am reposting this blog from last year as the geese have returned to the high school once again.  Actually, we had two pair arriving in late February, then they were gone about three weeks later.  I wondered if we would have any more until a few days ago when I spotted another two pair at the high school.  They arrived very early and very late this year.


Every spring for the past eight or nine years, Canada Geese have stopped on their travels north at a very unlikely spot here in Pasadena–the high school!  In 2004, one pair built a nest on the roof of the main building and took turns sitting on the eggs.  One of the French teachers provided the birds with food and water until the goslings hatched and mom and dad were able to take them off to teach them what they needed to know for the journey north.

I drive by the high school on my way to and from work, and last spring (my first in Pasadena), I was surprised to see first two, then only one of these large birds hanging out on the grassy parkway that runs down the middle of Sierra Madre Blvd.  Not knowing this was an annual return for the geese, my bleeding heart immediately started to worry.  Since I wasn’t familiar with the nesting habits of the birds, I worried even more when I saw only one bird on the grassy median.  I didn’t know they take turns sitting on the eggs.  What I did know is that they mate for life, and I immediately assumed something tragic had happened to one of them.  I thought the lone bird was pining his or her loss right there in front of the high school where the Rose Parade floats park on New Year’s Day.

This went on for about a week, and I got more and more upset with the idea that the beautiful bird was alone and mourning.  I talked about it with friends…I talked about it at work…it preyed on my mind.  Then one morning when the goose was standing on only one leg, I thought somehow the lone survivor had been injured.   A conversation with a friend whose parents had raised geese on a farm in South Dakota assured me that standing on one leg is a typical behavior, but that night on the way home, the goose was laying down on the grass.   I thought it was dying.  I wanted to call the SPCA, the police, the fire department, the local nature center, anyone who could come to the rescue.  Instead, I called friends in Ohio who are retired newspaper people.  One of their hobbies is birdwatching.  While Mike was telling me which editor to call at the local paper to draw attention to the bird’s plight, Nancy was searching the internet to see if there was anything about geese in Pasadena, California.  That’s what newspaper people do.  Then Nancy pulled up some articles from the Pasadena Star News.

I sighed in relief.  Not only were the locals aware of the geese, I learned that the high school had adopted them and were caring for four fledgling families.  Apparently 2011 was a bumper year for geese in Pasadena!

The geese pretty much always turned up in April I’ve since read, so I was a little surprised when I spotted a pair in front of the high school this year in late March.  In mid-April there were two more.  Since the weather has been erratic and atypical this year, I guess goose instinct brought them north at various times depending on the weather in the south.  I thought Canada Geese season was over here in Pasadena as May arrived, but this afternoon as I was driving home along Sierra Madre Boulevard, there they were again–two more beauties resting on the grass where the high school caregivers had set out food and water.

I made two illegal U-turns and parked my car in a NO STOPPING zone.   I ran across three lanes of traffic, camera in hand, to get to the median and take a few photos.

Since the geese have to cross Sierra Madre Boulevard to get to the median, they encounter a lot of cars.  The area is quite open, and in general, motorists slow and allow the birds to waddle across the road.   Last year, I thought about donating Goose Crossing signs to the high school  (yes, there really are such things, see photo below), but I never got around to ordering them.  Someone else beat me to it this year.  On both sides of the street, someone had put up the yellow caution signs showing the mother goose leading the goslings along behind her.

Some people are not enamoured with geese.  When they land in great numbers in some locales, they can cause a big disturbance and a big mess.  When I lived in Woodland Hills, great flocks of them often landed in one of the agriculture fields at Pierce College on their way south in November.  The college Agriculture Department didn’t mind the extra fertilizer.  Here in Pasadena, our few pairs in the spring are something to look forward to–just one of the many little enjoyments I have found since moving from the San Fernando Valley to Pasadena.

More on Pasadena wildlife in future–and there is a lot of it!  Thus far, I’ve encountered mud daubber wasps, moles, raccoons, rabid baby bats and the list is still growing.  As they say, Stay Tuned!

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