Man Versus Goose

04/05/2012

It's springtime and that means it's nesting season for birds.  The image of a mother bird sitting on her nest isn't one that normally inspires fear.  But birds can be very protective of their nests, eggs, babies and mates, and some birds are bigger than others.  

That's a lesson the man in the video below learns the hard way when he has an unexpected animal encounter while walking up to an office building.

Ok, now that you've stopped laughing (because admittedly this is pretty hilarious, especially the commentary from the people inside watching the whole thing unfold) I do want to offer some useful tips on avoiding this kind of encounter yourself. 

National Wildlife Federation Senior Scientist Doug Inkley had this advice for staffers at our headquarters building, which is now host to a nesting pair of Canada geese like the ones in the video (adapted from  About.com):

"As you know, they can be very aggressive, and we don’t want to do anything to encourage that. Male geese are at their most aggressive at this time of year and a goose attack is not a trivial matter.   If these geese become aggressive to a person even once, it is more likely they will then perceive anyone as a threat and become habitually aggressive. Like all wildlife, we need to avoid habituating them to humans and give them a wide-berth in the interest our well-being and theirs.

-Do not at anytime feed them or leave food out for them.

-Don’t go near the nest (best to stay away from the lower pond altogether).

-If the geese start to act aggressively, such as sounding a warning, move away immediately."

Goose

Dr. Inkley continued:

"I don’t know how true all the below is, but I’ve heard that if they do attack:

-Show no fear…geese are particularly attuned to body language and a show of fear may increase the intensity of the attack.

-Maintain eye contact. Geese have excellent vision and interpret loss of eye contact as an act of fear.

-Stay calm.   Don't yell or try to hit the male goose. The female may join the attack and then you will be in real trouble.

-Keep your body facing directly toward the goose. Never turn your back on an attacking goose.

-Walk slowly backwards if the goose hisses at you or spreads its wings. Use your peripheral vision to avoid tripping over obstacles.

-Continue facing the goose and back slowly away at a 90-degree angle from the goose if he flies up at your face."

Photo from Flickr Creative Commons


David Mizejewski is a naturalist with the National Wildlife Federation. His goal is to inspire others to appreciate the wonders of nature. Meet David >
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