When award-winning writer and biologist Bernd Heinrich became the unwitting -- but doting -- foster parent of an adorable gosling named Peep, he was drawn into her world. And so, with a scientist's training and a nature lover's boundless enthusiasm, he set out to understand the travails and triumphs of the Canada geese living in the beaver bog adjacent to his home. In The Geese of Beaver Bog, Heinrich takes his readers through mud, icy waters, and overgrown sedge hummocks to unravel the mysteries behind heated battles, suspicious nest raids, jealous outbursts, and more. With deft insight and infectious good humor, he sheds light on how geese live and why they behave as they do. Far from staid or predictable, the lives of geese are packed with adventure and full of surprises. Illustrated throughout with Heinrich's trademark sketches and featuring beautiful four-color photographs, The Geese of Beaver Bog is part love story, part science experiment, and wholly delightful.
It's a Goose
The speed limit on the highway a mile from my home in Vermont is 45 miles an hour, and Peep was pushing it. She was winging along a foot or two behind and just to the left of the cab of my Toyota pickup truck. Another truck roared by from the other direction but she kept her place. She didn't miss a wing-beat. You might think she knew all about flying, road vehicles, and the right-of-way convention when barreling down the highway. Fact is, this is was her maiden flight. I was as surprised to find her beside me, as I suspect the truck driver was.
I had originally planned to drive to town, but seeing her now I reconsidered. I slowed, turned around, and headed back toward our dirt road to lead her home. Site was soon again with me. I then cranked up to 50 miles an hour on the last level stretch on the approach to the turnoff to our road, to see what she could do. She started to lag a bit and I knew she was pushing, approaching her limits, because her bill opened and as I glanced sideways I saw her pink tounge exposed while she panted from exertion and overheating.
She didn't turn the corner too well. Tongue still out and chest heaving, she landed in a ditch and waddled out onto the dirt road. I stopped to see if she was all right. After giving her a couple of minutes to catch her breath, I got back into the truck ...