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The Hidden Lives of Ducks and Geese

Geese: A Lesson in Family Values

Geese are very loyal. They mate for life and are very protective of their partners and offspring. If a goose’s mate or chicks become sick or injured, he or she will often refuse to leave their side, even if winter is approaching and the other geese in the group are flying south. When a goose’s mate is killed, he or she will mourn in seclusion. After a partner dies, some geese spend the rest of their lives as widows or widowers, refusing to mate again.

Geese enjoy preening their feathers, foraging for food in the grass, and collecting twigs, bark, and leaves to make “home improvements” in their nests. They lay eggs once a year in the spring, and the female incubates them for 30 days while her mate guards their well-concealed home. True to their loyal nature, geese like to use the same nest each year if possible.

A Lesson in Teamwork

Multiple families of geese come together to form a larger group called a gaggle. Geese look out for others in their gaggle. If they are flying and one goose is shot, some of the other geese will lag behind to look after their injured friend.

Geese are adept fliers who may travel thousands of miles during their yearly migrations. They fly in a characteristic V shape so that the geese in front reduce the air resistance for those behind them, which helps the geese fly about 70 percent farther as a group than they could on their own. The geese rotate from the front to the back when they get tired, and those in the rear honk their encouragement to the leaders. Geese have long memories, and they use familiar landmarks and the stars to navigate during their yearly migrations.

Mighty Ducks

Ducks are outgoing, social animals who feel most at ease when they’re in larger groups of other ducks, who are called paddlings. They spend their days looking for food in the grass or in shallow water, and they sleep together with their paddlings at night. Ducks are meticulously clean animals who keep their nests free of waste and debris, and they enjoy preening their feathers and flaunting their beautiful plumage for potential mates. In nature, they may live for 10 years.

Ducks are adept swimmers and fliers, and they can travel hundreds of miles each year during their migrations. Like geese, they fly in formation for protection and to reduce air resistance, and they can fly at speeds of up to 60 miles per hour!

Duck Talk

Ducks use vocalizations and body language to communicate. Researchers at Middlesex University in Britain reported that ducks even have regional accents, just like humans! These scientists found that city ducks have more of a “shouting” quack so that other ducks can hear them above the hustle and bustle, while country ducks have softer, smoother voices.

Ducks and geese can feel pain and emotions just like your dog and cat, and just like us. They deserve the same freedom from cruelty that we show other more cuddly animals we love at home.The best way to protect these animals is to not buy down, foie gras, duck or goose meat.