A classic battle: man versus goose

It’s Friday, so don’t expect any more intellectual depth today. Matthew Cobb and I are apparently both in an end-of-the-week mood: he keeps sending me animal photos and videos, and I keep posting them. In this one, a businessman gets into a fracas with a Canada goose (Branta canadensis).  I don’t know why the goose is so peeved—perhaps it has a nest nearby?—but it clearly has an animus against the man, and winds up pwning him.

The guy could have restrained himself from trying to strike the goose with a rolled-up paper, for really, how much damage can an affronted goose do?

The person who posted this on Twitter, John R. Hutchinson, calls this a “draw”, but I call it a wings-down victory for goosedom.

57 Comments

  1. gbjames
    Posted August 23, 2013 at 11:13 am | Permalink

    I think a goose might do a fair bit of damage.

    • Posted August 23, 2013 at 11:15 am | Permalink

      Yeah, it could (as my mom used to warn me about everything) put your eye out!

      • Lianne Byram
        Posted August 23, 2013 at 11:58 am | Permalink

        I was assaulted by an Australian goose (while minding my own business)in an animal sanctuary outside of Melbourne. It didn’t leave any marks, but I was moving pretty darn quickly!

        • Marta
          Posted August 23, 2013 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

          A goose pinched me so hard once, it gave me a bruise the size of a golf ball–while my back was turned. It was both mean AND cowardly.

          • Lianne Byram
            Posted August 23, 2013 at 6:54 pm | Permalink

            Ouch! What a foul fowl!

          • Posted August 24, 2013 at 3:22 am | Permalink

            Geese, and all animals are neither brave or cowardly by choice. They are acting on instinct, in this case protecting their nest. The “big brave human” actually tries to do battle with the goose by kicking and swating it, when all he had to do was run. What an idiot!

            • Marta
              Posted August 24, 2013 at 5:14 am | Permalink

              Yes. I was engaging in a bit of anthropomorphism. On purpose. For the lols.

            • Diana MacPherson
              Posted August 24, 2013 at 8:26 am | Permalink

              I dunno, your name is “gosling”. I smell goose! A goose has infiltrated us! 🙂

              • Jeff Johnson
                Posted August 24, 2013 at 10:05 am | Permalink

                Quick, run!

  2. notovny
    Posted August 23, 2013 at 11:16 am | Permalink

    I think he’s more concerned with forcing the goose to keep its distance, rather than really attempting to strike it. Seems like if he’d actually wanted to hit the goose, he would have.

  3. sciros
    Posted August 23, 2013 at 11:18 am | Permalink

    I’ve always wondered what the rules of engagement are versus a goose. Are you allowed to escalate the situation with a good fast roundhouse kick in the goose’s face? Or maybe grabbing it by the neck and swinging it around like a war banner?

    Putting an empty trash can upside-down on the goose to neutralize it is probably the best option but it’s not always easy to do.

    • Posted August 23, 2013 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

      What’s good for the goose . . . .

    • John Scanlon, FCD
      Posted August 24, 2013 at 4:07 am | Permalink

      You’re reminding me of this burning question. The rules of engagement obviously depend mainly on who’s watching, and also whether you will be meeting the goose socially on a later occasion.

  4. Kevin Henderson
    Posted August 23, 2013 at 11:22 am | Permalink

    His eyes, yikes! Crazy human. He should have run for shelter sooner though he did not look too in shape.

  5. Pliny the in Between
    Posted August 23, 2013 at 11:44 am | Permalink

    My biggest concern with geese is all the people who sit on the edge of the bike thoroughfare feeding the geese. The resultant mess reduces the CoF of my bike tires considerably.

  6. steve oberski
    Posted August 23, 2013 at 11:53 am | Permalink

    for really, how much damage can an affronted goose do?

    As a runner I’ve encountered a few geese in my runs along the lakeshore, and all I can say is that until you get between a Canadian goose and it’s offspring you do not understand the true meaning of fear.

    • lamacher
      Posted August 23, 2013 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

      Yeah. Stephen Harper should hire this guy to protect the Canadian Arctic.

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted August 23, 2013 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

        What makes you think he hasn’t already? Between them and tundra swan the place is locked up!

        • lamacher
          Posted August 23, 2013 at 5:12 pm | Permalink

          (;>)

  7. eric
    Posted August 23, 2013 at 11:54 am | Permalink

    Geese can evidently be fairly aggressive. My great uncle had a “watchgoose.”

    Even though there is little chance of a person (or dog, etc.) being hurt by a goose, I can see how it could sell the intimidation. Most predators (like dogs) key somewhat off of behavior – if an animal doesn’t run, its not prey. If it opens its arms and it’s suddenly 10 feet wide and coming at you…time to back off and find a cat to chase instead.

    • RFW
      Posted August 23, 2013 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

      “Watch geese” feature in early Roman history. They were guarding the Capitol and gave the alert when Gauls had quietly inched up to the walls.

      Famous piece of history.

      • Mike Yonts
        Posted August 23, 2013 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

        …and the Gauls have been taking revenge against the geese ever since…

    • poxyhowzes
      Posted August 24, 2013 at 8:23 am | Permalink

      I have read that geese the size of a grown Canadian goose can actually break the bones in a human toddler’s arm (with their wings (the goose’s not the toddlers). Their beaks are quite strong enough to “pinch up” a good bruise as described above.

      Geese near our neighbor’s pond live on a public right of way, and so tend to see humans as sources of food handouts. Even when the goslings are quite young, the parents seem to have learned that there’s hardly ever a rolled-up newspaper in the offing. — pH

  8. Diana MacPherson
    Posted August 23, 2013 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

    The goose must’ve had a nest nearby because they get really territorial at that time and the people filming in the office must know this.

    I loved how you can hear the watchers filming the ordeal laughing with excited anticipation, knowing the man was about to meet goose fury! 😀

    It was a bit much that the guy escalated the conflict. Smacking the goose with the paper just ticked it off worse.

    Geese think they own the place. When I worked at a park I used to laugh at how a group of them would stop the cars driving in the park by walking in front like hot shots. I used to just keep driving – you don’t have to go fast but don’t slow down – they all stop crossing in front and some of them tell you off by hissing at you. It’s actually hilarious.

  9. Diane G.
    Posted August 23, 2013 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

    sub

  10. Posted August 23, 2013 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

    Yes, there seems to be a mother goose sitting on a nest nearby.
    That man shows a lot of restraint. I can see that he was tempted to whack the gander with his satchel.

    That’s a very aggressive gander. Canada geese used to nest out back behind our house, and when one female got off the nest to get some food, I managed to get close enough to count the number of eggs in this nest perched atop a pile of soil left by construction crews. Once the male showed up, honking his head off, I high tailed it out of there. I’d carry bread in hand to divert them a little, but they were having none of that.

    A couple of years ago as it was getting close to the end of this housing development project and the crew needed to excavate the last basements, they would surreptitiously smash the nests and eggs. But I heard from a neighbour that this one kid stole/saved an egg and managed to hatch it! I never ran into that young fella again to see how his hatchling was doing.

  11. Jim Thomerson
    Posted August 23, 2013 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

    We have geese on campus and physical plant sneaks around and oils eggs to keep the numbers reasonable. There is a pond near the buildings where a pair routinely nests. The student paper runs stories about not molesting geese while brooding or raising goslins. There was a student, not a well liked person, who set out to molest the geese at the pond. they ran him off and put him on the ground, with people who knew him cheering for the geese.

  12. Ken Phelps
    Posted August 23, 2013 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

    Farmer friend of mine who had some obnoxious geese showed me a technique for keeping his at bay. Extend your fingers and thumb with the fingertips bunched together to make your hand look more or less like a goose head and then hold your arm out in front of yourself above the goose. They do seem to be intimidated by this, presumably because it triggers an image of one big ass goose in their demented little brains.

  13. SA Gould
    Posted August 23, 2013 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

    Goose had last word. Clearly, goose won.

  14. TnkAgn
    Posted August 23, 2013 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

    Or a Black Swan.

    I couldn’t get it to give me video, but if you’re a fan of the Larry David Show – and you should be – you’ll get it.

  15. Posted August 23, 2013 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

    The goose does a very good job of distraction. What could be mother goose entering the picture at 00:24 on the left is barely noticed thanks to the fuzz created. I’d say job well done, daddy goose.

  16. Thanny
    Posted August 23, 2013 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

    When I was a young child in rural Missouri, my neighboring aunt and uncle had a few geese (not Canadian). They were very aggressive, without any young to defend. And to a five-year-old, they were pretty damn big as well. I always kept my distance.

  17. Lee
    Posted August 23, 2013 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

    “how much damage can an affronted goose do?”

    If you had ever been hit by the alula of a goose you would not ask this question.

  18. Steve P
    Posted August 23, 2013 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

    Complete non sequitur
    http://adultcatfinder.com/

  19. docbill1351
    Posted August 23, 2013 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

    I once saw a swan in Kew gardens chase a man with a camera who was being annoying.

    Swan 1
    Man 0

  20. madscientist
    Posted August 23, 2013 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

    Geese make good guards – they’ll make a lot of noise and attack strangers. Those pecks sure hurt – especially if the goose is a nutpecker. I just give them a good kick and they go away after two or three whacks. If I have a cane with me I just push the silly thing aside. If they’re in a group it’s best to just get away from them.

  21. Posted August 23, 2013 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

    Sometimes when their fledglings are around, they get pretty aggressive. I’ve been hissed at and chased while running.

    I usually just growl at them.

    The red winged blackbirds are worse, IMHO.

  22. Jeff Johnson
    Posted August 23, 2013 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

    It looked to me like the man ended up with more ruffled feathers than the goose.

  23. John
    Posted August 23, 2013 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

    I had a similar battle a few years ago with a mute swan, a more imposing opponent. It won because I retreated. I think I would have had to kill or injure the creature if I chose to continue the fight There are many routes to the parking lot, I chose an alternative.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted August 23, 2013 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

      Well it was mute, so maybe it was just trying to communicate.

  24. Scott Hanley
    Posted August 23, 2013 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

    Diana MacPherson said:

    Geese think they own the place. When I worked at a park I used to laugh at how a group of them would stop the cars driving in the park by walking in front like hot shots. I used to just keep driving – you don’t have to go fast but don’t slow down – they all stop crossing in front and some of them tell you off by hissing at you. It’s actually hilarious.

    From working years at Yellowstone, I can tell you that bison have developed the same strategy. They’re not so easily intimidated, unfortunately ….

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted August 23, 2013 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

      Yeah, I think I’d stop for the bison.

  25. Robert Secatore
    Posted August 23, 2013 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

    My guess is that the goose is defending a clutch of eggs or a brood of young goslings, nearby evidently. You can see a smaller goose, presumably the female, near the edge of the ditch at the left side of frame. I think most people would have walked away, but this guy evidently took it as a personal insult or some such and decided to save face!

  26. Marella
    Posted August 23, 2013 at 5:44 pm | Permalink

    I don’t know about geese but I was attacked by a pair of swans once, black ones in Perth, and it was fucking terrifying!! I had my two year old with me and he threw acorns to the birds, who clearly felt aggrieved that they weren’t food and decided to come and inspect our pockets for themselves. I picked up my baby and I ran. I have never felt the same way about swans since.

  27. marksolock
    Posted August 23, 2013 at 7:37 pm | Permalink

    Reblogged this on Mark Solock Blog.

  28. hank_says
    Posted August 23, 2013 at 7:41 pm | Permalink

    When my mum was a kid and living at the family orchard, they had a gaggle of about half a dozen geese. Foxes were always trying to pick off their chickens and ducks, but such was the vigilance and brutal temper of the gaggle that the foxes were never successful (and a guard dog was never required). Suffice it to say the family were also never pestered by door-to-door evangelists, sales reps or local politicians.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted August 23, 2013 at 7:51 pm | Permalink

      Well come to think of it Goosey Goosey Gander was kind of a hard assed religious zealot who acted like he owned the place so this all makes sense:

      Goosey goosey gander,
      Whither shall I wander?
      Upstairs and downstairs
      And in my lady’s chamber.
      There I met an old man
      Who wouldn’t say his prayers,
      So I took him by his left leg
      And threw him down the stairs.

      What a jerk – throws the atheist down the stairs! Geese are tyrants!

      • Michael Clarke
        Posted August 24, 2013 at 2:03 am | Permalink

        IIRC Goosey was my lady’s lover and the old man was her husband. “Say his prayers” was an 18th century colloquialism for die. I think Goosey was hanged at Tyburn.

        • Sawdust Sam
          Posted August 24, 2013 at 9:55 am | Permalink

          Possibly, but Iona & Peter Opie’s Oxford Dictionary of Nursery Rhymes suggest that the last four lines were added to the first four in the early 19th century and that they originally were a separate quatrain that began ‘Old daddy long legs’. This can refer to a harvestman spider, but more commonly to a cranefly. I’m assuming that US readers recognise the terminology.
          The first published version of Goosey, goosey gander (1784) concluded with:
          There you’ll find a cup of sack
          And a race of ginger.

        • Diane G.
          Posted August 24, 2013 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

          Ooh, this is the backstory I like best! Always amazing how macabre some nursery rhymes and fairy tales actually are.

  29. H.H.
    Posted August 23, 2013 at 9:06 pm | Permalink

    Clearly has some Velociraptor blood left in him.

  30. Posted August 24, 2013 at 8:58 am | Permalink

    As someone who as a child lived in a family with a pet goose, I can tell you they can do quite a lot of damage!
    My mum used to send me out to get the washing in and the goose (Violent Violet) would chase me around and around the garden, I’d have to keep jumping up onto higher ground and make a dash to get a few pieces of washing then run as fast as I could- if the goose got me she used to bite my inner thighs (why my inner thighs?! Youch!) so hard and would leave Huge painful bruises!
    Oh the memory!

  31. Rebecca Sparks
    Posted August 24, 2013 at 9:05 am | Permalink

    I prefer the lightsaber version 😀

  32. Posted August 25, 2013 at 2:42 am | Permalink

    I was aggressively approached by a small gaggle, once, and warned that they could be dangerous by one of their caretakers. It was at a very large wildlife rescue preserve.

    So, I stopped, and I sang them a lullaby. After that, they stopped behaving aggressively, but they did follow me around, wanting me to keep singing.

    The caretaker was bowled over by it. Music does soothe the savage beast.


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