01.01.17: Flying away

Canada geese flying away, Sharon Woods Metro Park, Westerville, Ohio.


Technical information

Dec. 12, 2009,
10:17 a.m.

40°6’50” N,
82°57'30" W
(Show in Google Maps)

Canon EOS 7D

Canon EF 600mm f/4L, Canon 1.4x teleconverter (840mm) 


1/3200th second


I do not like Canada geese.

There, I said it.

I have nothing against a Canada goose … singular. One goose isn’t a problem, but you seldom see one Canada goose. When singular becomes plural — goose becomes geese, at times numbering in the hundreds — it creates a significant nuisance. And there’s little that can be done about it.

Canada geese, like all migratory birds, are protected by the Migratory Bird Act, a federal law enacted in 1918. The law makes it illegal for anyone to pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill or capture a Canada goose without a permit, no matter how much of a health risk or public nuisance it creates. There are companies that have federal and state permits that allow them to chase geese away using trained dogs or noisemakers, but the geese tend to come back.

The most common complaint about Canada geese is the accumulation of droppings. Each goose can produce one to two pounds of droppings each day. Gatherings can include 50 or more geese, so that can lead to more than 100 pounds of goose poop a day in areas like beaches, parks, golf courses or lawns. It’s a pain to clean up and it can be a health risk because the droppings can carry salmonella, E. coli or listeria. Heavy concentrations of goose droppings can increase nitrogen content in ponds and lakes, leading to algae blooms and unsafe water quality.

Geese can also be aggressive. I’ve been attacked many times on photo hikes by geese that consider me a threat.

And something just about everyone in Central Ohio has experienced is a goose-related traffic jam. A flock of geese will decide to relocate and, for some reason, insist on walking instead of flying. They start crossing a busy street. About halfway across they seem to forget where they are going so they stop to have a discussion as traffic backs up. Because of their protected status, there’s little the motorists can do but wait until the flock moves on.

OK. Rant over.

I shot this photo in 2009 near a lake in a park north of Columbus. The geese on the lake were about to take flight (I knew that because of the agitated honking erupting from the group) so I focused on the area in hopes of getting a shot of the birds flying toward me. That didn’t happen. The birds flew the opposite direction, quickly reaching a clean, blue-sky background above the tree line. I liked the angles created by the lines of wings so I captured a few frames.

The color photo was interesting when I saw it on my computer, but nothing special. Converting the photo to black and white, which eliminated the distraction of color and reduced the image to a collection of lines and angles, made it more interesting. So that’s the one I use.

Each week I will post a photo from my collection with an explanation of how I got the shot. Previous photos of the week are in the archives.