Canada geese invade Lake Riverside Estates

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Canada geese keep a watchful eye for danger as they graze in fields in Lake Riverside Estates. Anza Valley Outlook/Diane Sieker photo

Squadrons of Canada geese have invaded the quiet Aguanga community of Lake Riverside Estates. Hundreds of the birds have descended upon the grassy meadows to feed on newly sprouting grasses in preparation for the mating and egg laying season just around the corner.

The Canada goose, Branta canadensis, is a large wild goose species native to arctic and temperate regions of North America. These birds are primarily herbivorous and found on or close to fresh water. Lake Riverside Estates’ small body of water and rolling fields are the perfect place for them to call home.

Canada geese are extremely successful at living close to people and are not bothered by most human activities; however, they can be considered a pest species because of noise, droppings and aggressive territorial behavior toward both humans and other animals.

According to a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 2013 report, there are more than 5 million breeding Canada geese in North America, with these numbers increasing every year. The birds are a protected species under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. This protection applies to both resident and migratory geese. Neither individuals nor governmental entities may launch lethal control efforts without the proper federal, state and local permits.

The large number of birds in Lake Riverside Estate increase the potential of bird strikes around the community’s air strip. Pilots have become creative in keeping the birds off the runway. No federal or state permits are needed to scare, herd or chase away geese by any means, including dogs or noisemakers, as long as no birds are physically harmed. Wind-activated hunting dog silhouettes have proven effective in years past, as well as conscientious mowing of lots adjoining the strip. The birds have been feeding in areas away from the runway, instead causing traffic jams on the roads as they cross.

In the evenings, many of the birds take to the air, flying in V-formation, honking and orbiting the valley, before landing back in the fields.

Many residents look forward to seeing the great herds of geese peacefully grazing around the community. Soon the nesting will begin, as monogamous couples pair off to lay eggs and raise their goslings.

Diane Sieker can be reached by email at dsieker@reedermedia.com.