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Wild Goose Chase

September 29, 2014

Wild Goose Chase

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Ken Huth Ken Huth

Nature and wildlife have always been my source of fun and relaxation. It is no surprise that I found a way to incorporate animals into my work. As supervisor of birds at the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Bronx Zoo, my day is filled with wildlife interactions, but it’s never enough.

As a part of an ongoing study of our resident Canada goose population, I get to drive around the zoo in a golf cart doing a sort of goose scavenger hunt. In an effort to monitor the zoo’s goose population, size, and distribution, I keep track of them by alpha-numeric plastic neck collars that fit loosely like a bracelet. I go from pond to pond, grassy area to grassy area, and all along the Bronx River checking them off my master list – RY73, check. RY85, check.

It might sound odd, but I get to know them as – dare I say it – individuals. For instance, RY70 and Green 52 are a couple. If I see RY70, I know her male, Green 52, is close by. I know where they like to nest and how many eggs they usually have.

I am also very interested in their pairing habits. It has long been assumed that waterfowl (Canada geese, among others) mate for life. In the past eight years, as I have been working with the resident geese at the Bronx Zoo, I have found this to be untrue. Birds “break up” and repair every so often. I am testing this assumption by tracking the breeding success of known banded pairs and seeing if breeding success is directly related to how long pairs stay together.

Nikon D4

Bronx, USA Map It


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