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Re: Harmonious depredations and The Geese of Goddard Space Flight Center



    John Bois said, "Martin's observation is remarkable; but it is
remarkable because it is so rare.  In my fifty years of existence, I have
never seen geese-size birds nesting in a visible suburban location..."

    What Martin Human reported concerning Canada geese is absolutely neither
a rarity nor an abberation.  John Bois lives in the Maryland/D.C. area.  If
he had been on heavily travelled Greenbelt road, just east of the
Kennilworth Avenue overpass of Greenbelt Road on almost any day recently at
an hour or two before sunset, he would have seen a pair of Canada geese and
their six gosslings peacefully eating the grass growing in the median, while
rush-hour traffic whizzed by on both sides.  Each day my wife and I wondered
how the parents ever got those gosslings into the median safely, of how they
safely got back to wherever their nesting area was, later in the day.  But,
each day, we saw the same full group, and we never saw any goose or gossling
carcass(es) in the road.  They were as jaded to the automobile traffic as
could be!

    What is more, John, if you really want to see how wrong you are on this,
acquire a visitor's pass into NASA's  Goddard Space Flight Center and drive
or stroll around the grounds.  Pass among the 33 buildings and parking lots
where 1,300 people come and go every weekday.  You will find plenty of goose
nests on the tiny 'islands' between parking spaces. In hatching season, they
geese are undisturbed by people opening and slamming car doors right beside
them!  They even take loud mufflers complacently.  I have seen plenty of
goose nests within two to five meters from heavily travelled walkways.  The
geese are so haughty that they -- even in procession with numerous
gosslings -- flaunt their 'ownership' of the center by slowly strolling
right out in front of oncoming automobiles!  Recently, one driver proceeded
onward, refusing to stop for the goose procession.  Seemingly offended, the
lead goose sassily pecked at the passing tires.

    So prolific are the geese of Goddard (despite natural predators like
fox, weasels, snakes, hawks, etc.), that the government, this year,
reportedly had someone go around and coat many of the eggs with oil, to
suffocate the developing organism within, with the explanation of
"population control"  :(  Despite that, this year we have a 'bumper crop' of
gosslings.  Many of them are by now pretty much fledged and quickly becoming
adult in appearance.  This makes me wonder whether some species of non-avian
dinosaurs may have grown up with comparable speed.  Now, the government is
planning to temporarily populate the center with sheep-herding dogs that
will obsessively try to herd the geese and -- they hope -- cause them to fly
away and not return.  The reason:  A few people complain about stepping in
goose droppings.  Well I, for one, prefer dodging a few fairly innoculous
goose droppings than stepping in what the packs of sheep-herding dogs may
leave behind.

    So now you have it.  With all its "avian dinosaurs", the NASA operation
in Greenbelt, Maryland, is really the Goddard Goose Flight (& Hatching)
Center!  (Or, at least it will be until they bring in the dogs.)

    May the 'avian dinosaurs' live long on the beautiful, green grounds of
GSFC!

    Have a look for yourself, John Bois.

    Ray Stanford