Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine

Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine

Canada goose nesting spot © Michael D. Loui

Hachiís nesting hotspot is atop a carport.

April 2015

A springtime affair

The return of two geese signals a new season.

Story and photos by Michael D. Louis (with help from his granddaughters Sydney, Cassie, Savanna and Ansley)

It was a beautiful day for flying! Bright blue skies and calm winds made for a great flight. One could see every field and sparkling pond for miles. It was time for the flock, having flown from Goose Creek to central Wisconsin, to pick a pond and field. So the gaggle put down, settled in and gabbled until the sun dipped into darkness.

Sentinel, the designated sentry, kept watch for suspicious movement throughout the long night. Guard duty was essential so that every goose could get enough rest for the next leg of the trip to Canada. They were "Canada" geese intent on making it to the country that shared their name.

With the rising sun, every goose was rested and ready. Every goose was ready, that is, except for Sentinel. The long night did him in and he fell fast asleep in his sentry position, standing up.

Sentinel stayed behind as the departing flock took flight. In addition to Sentinel, another goose, who we came to call Hachi, stayed behind. Being born in the Florida panhandle, her name was derived from the Seminole word meaning "stream."

Sentinel and Hachi settled in and became familiar and welcomed guests in our community. Hachi decided to nest on a church carport.

The great thing about the carport is that Hachi could see all around her from the height. Sentinel had a good view from the field across the road. It was at a nice quiet little church. What more could a mother goose want?

The lazy traffic on the road slowed to stop at the little church, while the carport provided a sleepy little spot for Hachi to care for her eggs, with four expected little hatchlings. Wind caught in the tree branches covering her nest provided a soothing lullaby and shade for peaceful rest. So, lazy and sleepy it was.

But on the first weekend after laying her eggs, Hachi got a surprise when her sleepy little spot lit up — literally. The normally quiet parishioners came to life barbequing. Grills were ignited right under the carport roof.

Hachi peeked over the side of the carport roof to discover the parishioners flipping something "fowl" on the grills. She then tiptoed quietly back to her nest on the center of the roof.

Tiptoeing quietly was hard to do with huge webbed feet. Rising heat made it uncomfortable and Hachi's tiptoeing turned into a hot–footin' and stompin' dance across the roof. It was impossible to be surreptitious!

Sentinel gawked from his position across the street. We imagined he might be wondering how Hachi could seemingly have such a good time with grilling, laughing, dancing and singing right under her feet? She even appeared to be dancing to the beat of the music!

Then, when the weekend party wound down, Hachi again settled down to her original purpose of caring for and protecting the eggs.

Except for an occasional flyby of some hawks running reconnaissance on the eggs, the next four weeks were uneventful and there were no more grilling parties. Hachi nested and Sentinel stood his ground across the street "protecting" her and the nest at a safe distance.

The big event finally arrived with a mix of excitement and sadness in the community. Sentinel and Hachi became proud parents of four little goslings and carefully instructed the youngsters on how to glide from the top of the carport to the ground. It took patience and coaxing.

The little procession of proud parents and goslings occurred properly at the crosswalk at the intersection. And it wasn't too much longer before Sentinel and Hachi, now joined by four Canada goose goslings, resumed their flight as planned.

As has happened for the past three springs, Sentinel and Hachi are expected to return again and make ready to welcome another generation to the flock.

Michael D. Louis is a former resident of Stevens Point, who says he has Wisconsin running through his veins. He currently resides in Atlanta, Ga.