Lexi Easter, Staff Writer
With the Canadian goose nesting season afoot across North America, the University of Missouri-St. Louis campus is no different. Everywhere students turn they are faced with the daunting task of slowly tip-toeing past paternally invested creatures.
According to the Audubon – Guide to North American Birds, the nesting season lasts from mid-February to the end of April. Students only have to beware for a length of 30 days.
A senior at UMSL (who wishes to stay anonymous) explains, “I am quite familiar to the spontaneous actions of the geese around this time because they are awful when they have their babies. I personally was not victimized, but I have seen people get chased.”
Chase Jungewaelter, junior, media studies, expressed how he was also affected significantly by the geese. He disclosed that the geese “…make me uneasy, like they watch my every move and always have their eyes on me waiting to pounce. It’s quite frightening.”
It seems there is a consistent theme through UMSL’s campus: be careful how close you get to unrelenting geese, if you want to come out unscathed. Aimee Dunlap, a biology professor who teaches animal behavior at UMSL gave her input. Dunlap clarified they are very similar to other animal mothers which is why they get so agitated around nesting season. It’s instinctive for mother geese to protect their young. The difference with geese is, “the fathers are also involved because like many birds they have bi-parental care. When the mother is on the nest, the father is on defense duty,” according to Dunlap.
The residential UMSL geese are normally desensitized to the hustle and bustle of college campus, but sometimes geese “put their nests in places close to sidewalks and doors,” Dunlap said. In turn, students may not even know they are walking past a nest. The geese feel that this is a little too close for comfort. Dunlap suggests if you see a goose hissing, starting to open its wings, or chase; you should slowly and calmly back away, continue to maintain eye contact, and try not to be aggressive back.
After spending some time with Dunlap, it has become clear that one must watch where you walk and if you come face to face with a Canadian goose, treat it with respect. They are just protecting their little ones from the world. Give the geese their space. They are only going to advance if they believe you are too close.