Thursday, February 16, 2006

Waterfowl, Alive and Dead

Watching a flock of Canada geese: they fly in two V-shaped clusters. They are coming in perpendicular to the river, so that in order to land, they have to make a sharp left turn. The first V splashes down in the water; the second group flies over their heads to land upstream.

Some people are of the opinion that Canada geese are turning into a pest in this city. There are a lot of them around, but I still think they're beautiful. They watch out for each other: each flock always has one or two individuals keeping a lookout, while the rest of them eat.

In addition to geese, the river near my house also attracts ducks (and occasionally the swans I wrote about earlier.) I can recognize mallards, but there are two or three other species of duck among them that I don't know the names of.

The other day, I found a dead male mallard by the side of the road. All those shining green feathers. The body both swollen and flattened. A long time ago, I read a poem by Gary Snyder called "The Dead by the Side of the Road." I didn't know at the time that he was some kind of famous poet, but the phrase has stayed with me. Poems about roadkill.

While I'm on the subject, if you find a dead animal on the road, and it's safe for you to do so, it's a good idea to move it off of the road. Scavenging animals will come to eat it - and they're all too likely to end up as roadkill themselves.

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