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DEAR JOAN: I was looking for some information on the nocturnal habits of Canada geese and found your column on where geese go at night.
I was wondering more about their nighttime conversation. I have a pond near my house and recently the irrigation district decided to put a fence around the pond. Mostly, the communication sounded happy and l thoroughly enjoyed hearing them talk through the night. Now the geese are almost silent.
They are still at the pond. What happened?
Mary Bouman, Bay Area
DEAR MARY: Canada geese are among the most vocal of birds, honking at each other at every opportunity, even in flight.
When geese turn in for the night, they like to find a good-sized pond on which to roost. That keeps them safe from most predators that either don’t want to go into the water, or would make a lot of noise attempting to get to them, giving the flock the opportunity to escape into the sky.
As they settle in, there’s a lot to talk about, and depending upon the season, a lot to squawk about. Over-protective males honk at other ganders that get too close to their mates. Older geese often will chide younger ones about their mothering skills and will sometimes take over flocks of goslings, if they think the parents aren’t taking good care of them. And of course, the goslings talk a lot, seeking the attention of their parents and siblings.
Although the geese have found what they believe to be a safe roosting spot, they continue to have guards about to sound warnings, and the geese tend to be a little honk happy, alarming at the slightest provocation.
While we might consider that the geese are unhappy about the fence and have gone silent out of depression or petulance, it might be that the geese recognize the fence is giving them more protection and thus have less to honk about.
As we move into nesting season, the conversation should pick up.
DEAR JOAN: Our beloved bichon frise died in November. We are beyond heartbroken, we loved him so. Having said that, the house is really, really empty without a dog and we are looking to adopt a rescue.
A young adult small poodle, bichon or mixed breed of that type, hopefully already house trained. If you can give me any tips about where to look it would be great.
Jackee, Bay Area
DEAR JACKEE: I am so sorry about your loss. Losing a pet is difficult and painful, but I’m glad you’re willing to open your heart to a new pet.
The best way to find your new dog is to visit animal shelters and rescue groups, and meet the dogs. You can do some research ahead of time by going to the online websites of the groups closest to you and checking out the pets they have available. Those might not be the most up-to-date, but if you find a dog that grabs at your heart strings, you can email or call to check on availability.
By meeting the dogs in person, you’ll get a better idea of the animal’s personality, and by talking to the people who’ve been caring for the dogs, you’ll know about certain quirks and house-training status.
Keep an open mind. Your dog was unique and you’ll never find another just like him, but there are other wonderful dogs just waiting for you.
Why have the chatty geese stopped talking so much?