My adventures in the woods, streams, rivers, fields, and lakes of Michigan

The continuing saga of Lonesome George, birds of a feather? Part III

As I ended the last post, the geese that thought that they were going to chase the three cormorants out of the pond had instead been split into two small flocks by the two cormorants who took part in the rather anti-climatic rumble of my previous post. There was one cormorant keeping each of the small flocks of geese “corralled”, and every time a goose would try to move out into the main part of the pond, the cormorant working that flock would head the goose off, and turn it back into the rest of the flock.

Double crested cormorant herding geese

Double crested cormorant herding geese

I’m not sure, but I think I heard the cormorants snickering from time to time. The geese didn’t like this at all, so they decided to leave, rather than to continue to be embarrassed by their own wimpiness.

Canada goose taking flight

Canada goose taking flight

Canada goose taking flight

Canada goose taking flight

Canada goose taking flight

Canada goose taking flight

Canada geese taking flight

Canada geese taking flight

Canada goose flying past a great blue heron

Canada goose flying past a great blue heron

With the geese gone, one of the cormorants shot the heron a nasty look, which, even with the distance between them, the heron understood and it retreated back from the water.

Double crested cormorant and great blue heron

Double crested cormorant and great blue heron

With the other geese gone, George came out of hiding and returned to the edge of the pond where he could watch what was going on.

Lonesome George

Lonesome George

The three cormorants got together for a good laugh at the way they had handled the geese, then, first one…

A double crested cormorant flying past two others

A double crested cormorant flying past two others

then another…

Double crested cormorant in flight

Double crested cormorant in flight

..left the pond.

I was thinking that all the action was over for the day, and I was preparing to leave myself, when I saw a small flock of geese headed toward the pond, with their wings set to land.

Canada goose set to land

Canada goose set to land

The geese saw that there was still one cormorant at the pond, pulled up, and continued on.

Canada goose deciding not to land

Canada goose deciding not to land

I have no way of knowing if these geese were the same ones as the cormorants had just run off, but they definitely been set to land until they saw the cormorant still perched on the fountain.

The evil heron came flying past…

Great blue heron in flight

Great blue heron in flight

..it was croaking away…with the remaining cormorant squawking back at the heron…

Double crested cormorant

Double crested cormorant

…which seemed to make the heron already at the pond nervous….

Great blue heron

Great blue heron

…and this is one of those things I have no explanation for. Within a minute or two of the ruckus between the flying heron and the cormorant, one of the cormorants that had left came winging its way back to the pond.

Double crested cormorant in flight

Double crested cormorant in flight

Double crested cormorant in flight

Double crested cormorant in flight

Double crested cormorant in flight

Double crested cormorant in flight

Double crested cormorant in flight

Double crested cormorant in flight

The heron at the pond watched in interest, seeing if the cormorants were going to come after him..

Great blue heron

Great blue heron

..but, the two cormorants swam around the pond very close to one another, as if they were a couple out for an afternoon stroll together.

Double crested cormorants

Double crested cormorants

They went around and around the pond like that, and even paid no attention to the heron, which had gotten brave and was hunting for fish while standing in the pond.

Great blue heron

Great blue heron

This was one of those times that I wished I could recognize individual birds of the same species, and knew more about how acute their senses are. Did the cormorant just happen to return right after the heron flew by, or had it heard the heron and other cormorant jawing at one another? Was that cormorant even one of the two that had been there earlier, or was this yet another one? The two cormorants swimming around the pond looked for all the world to be a mated pair, but up until then, I saw no evidence of that. Up until the pair did their laps around the pond, whenever the heron had approached the water, one of the cormorants would chase it back away from the pond, but now they left the heron in peace, why? Oh, by the way, there was also a little green heron there at the pond, which I hadn’t noticed until very near the end of my time at the pond, but none of the other birds paid any attention to it at all. (I do have a photo of the green heron, but it’s bad, so I’m not going to post it.)

Whenever a flock of geese would land at the pond, the first thing they would do is chase Lonesome George back away from the edge of the pond, and force him to hide in the weeds, yet a mallard and a cormorant would hang out with him, and even protect him from his own species, or other species, why?

I’m just scratching the surface here as far as questions about bird behavior, all animal behavior for that matter. How much of it is instinct, and how much of it is learned behavior?

As I was growing up, I think that the prevalent school of thought among biologists at the time was that all animal behavior is simply instinct, and that animals didn’t really think in the way we do. (They may not think like we do, but that may not be such a bad thing 😉 ) Some scientists would even dismiss any first hand accounts of animal actions that showed any type of rational thought by animals.

I never believed that all animal actions were only due to instinct, I grew up in the woods, watching critters solve problems, too many to go into here, besides, science has reversed itself, now we even have animal behaviorists and dog psychologists. I am still fascinated by the subject, and the more I watch animals in action, the less I seem to know.

Anyway, I’ll try to provide a few (pathetically few) answers in some of future posts, right now, I’m going to wrap this one up.

The two cormorants flew off to who knows where..

Double crested cormorant in flight

Double crested cormorant in flight

…eventually, the heron left as well. (a pushy wannabe photographer may have given the heron some help in making up its mind to leave)

Great blue heron in flight

Great blue heron in flight

That left Lonesome George alone.

Lonesome George

Lonesome George

But, he had a beautiful day to rest, and enjoy the weather.

Lonesome George looking out over his pond

Lonesome George looking out over his pond

So, that’s it for this one, thanks for stopping by!

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4 responses

  1. Poor George-I hope he finds another friend and will eventually mend and be able to fly away. i wonder if a wildlife rescue group could help him?

    January 6, 2013 at 8:19 am

    • Thank you, several of us who lived in the area tried many rescue groups, none wanted to help a goose. I can’t answer your other points at this time, as I don’t want to give away the ending, I’ll have the next post up tonight.

      January 6, 2013 at 8:30 am

  2. Pingback: The continuing saga of Lonesome George, astounding changes in attitudes « Quiet Solo Pursuits

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