A goose of a different color

The lake pretty much mirrors the fall sky, a moving study in black and grey and white.

The Canada geese come (and go) by the hundreds. The length of their visits is unpredictable tho’ hurrying to watch when their familiar time-to-go-guys call begins is reward in itself as they somehow take flight by tens and twenties. Watching them come in is even more fun for how the last can find room to settle among the earlier comers always seems close to a miracle and yet I have never witnessed a mishap even when a clumsy youngster might almost alight on a floating gander.

I stopped yesterday to watch a large band leave. Often as not they need only to clear the tree line before settling down next door. Now that the cornstalks are finally cut, there have to be plentiful pickings even for the hundred.

Light was failing as they left this time but the vision was clear enough I had no trouble spotting that flash of white.

A swan has visited here in the past, one of my most sterling memories, but this was probably no swan. The month was wrong and I, truly not knowing that much about birds, suspected instead it was a white goose.

White? Yes. Snow geese do visit. I have pictures of a field full once, but only once, which caused me to question the need for hunting season. (Rather like the single cormorant who came for a couple days once). I have seen many (MANY) cormorants and snow geese near Lake Champlain and perhaps they do carpet the East Coast but not here. In fact the biggest census I have is eight. Usually just one or two come in as part of the flock of Canadas.

There is nothing to convince me this visitor is any different.

I have even, more rarely, observed a blue goose, another possible color of the snow white though secretly I suspect some of their color variations may be the result of a little too friendly fraternizing. (To clarify a bit, the blue goose or blue phase of the snow goose has only a white head while the true “snow” in its white phase is all white except for those startling black wing tips.)

I did not see the black wing tips on this guest but shall hope to look again tomorrow. Seeing this bird at all takes effort though I don’t suppose that’s particularly unusual when one is searching for one out of two or three hundred.

She’s back! And surely it’s a she for, while most of the grey and white birds float contentedly, she continues to groom and then, head against her back, falls asleep. I see none of the others in a similar position.

A feisty “she” as well, for this morning she seemed to have selected a favorite and was willing to snap to keep all others away. Perhaps that explains her afterward need to nap.

She is beautiful. She stands out so. Funny, the other geese see no difference. They are not drawn to mirrors tho’ any water might provide a clue to appearance; and wouldn’t they get a hint from all the others around them? They are content to let her be.

Geese are raised in families. How when have they learned to be so color blind?

And isn’t it just a bit ironic that “she,” who is the only one truly aware of the difference, also insists on behavior unlike the crowd?

Perhaps it’s just more important to salute the difference than the conformity.

That’s OK with me, too.

Susan Crossett is a Cassadaga resident. Send comments to editorial@observertoday.com