The Alan Sondheim Mail Archive

Birding headaches

The Branta canadensis parvipes is the lesser Canada goose. We
were at the Carter Center and I noticed the Canada geese were
smaller and somewhat stockier in the bill than the geese we're
used to seeing. Identification proves miserable; there are seven
subspecies and it seems difficult to tell them apart. Certainly
this flock (which was quite large) was sufficiently different
than the usual. Should we report these? The lesser seem more
"Canadian" than the usual Canada goose; perhaps they have
illegally crossed the border. It's troubling. None of them were
armed. They seemed, by the way, much less aggressive than the
standard geese; even the guard geese were pretty laid back.
Perhaps the Carter Center has
something to do with it? The place seems dedicated to calmness
and meditation; there's a beautiful Japanese garden for example.
There were also Eastern towhees and the usual bluebirds, robins,
cardinals, etc. around. The sky was blue, the grass was green,
there are hybrid American chestnuts everywhere, as the Center is
concerned to bring these back from the blight that almost wiped
them out. I don't want to spend the rest of my life birding, as
opposed to my usual creative activities, but it's good to learn
to see and listen; how else would the long-tailed duck calls
have made it into my music? This doesn't mean either that I
favor the instrumental over other forms of (non)reason, just
that, given the political and ecological climate today, I'm
trying to learn to tread more carefully.

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