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The Long Journey Home

Updated: Jan 15

Canadian geese are creatures of intense habit. Many people know they mate for life and when their mate dies, most never mate again. They usually return to their birthplace every summer and often return to familiar, safe feeding or resting grounds each winter.

Along the Chesapeake Bay, we begin to see, and hear, their arrival with the first northwesterly winds in early October. While nature lovers to our north are marveling at fall foliage, we are treated to the sight of large Vs of Canadian geese funneling down from great heights after their two-thousand-mile journey. Surprisingly, some can make the trip in only a day and a half or two days. Yes, that means exceeding 40 miles per hour, as they take turns leading and following each other to break the wind or draft as they tire.

Three winters ago, we heard an odd stranger among the traditional honks so common to our area. It was a distinct, high-pitched honk like nothing from his or her brethren, yet when searching for the source of the odd noise, every goose looked exactly the same. It was easy to nickname him “Squeaky” and even our neighbors were entertained by his peculiar, loud squeaks during the night, like a sentinel reporting all is well. We presumed he was a member of a large flock that roosted every evening in the creek behind our home. But as the weeks went by, we observed he often stayed behind while others flew off to feed in cornfields day and night.

We had put up our Christmas tree in a tall window facing the Bay, when one evening my wife saw a goose next to it, peeking in, only inches from the glass. I dashed outside and saw the goose waddling away toward steps that led into the Bay. I didn’t want him to see me, so I just let him go.

No goose has ever stepped foot on our property before or after the night he appeared. We were convinced he was the goose who came to look at our colorful tree since there were no other geese on the creek that night. He’s come back the last two winters, and we hope to have Squeaky return home again.

UPDATE: On the evening of January 4, 2024, Squeaky returned! There is no question it is our old friend with his/her extremely unique voice. As before, he often hides in the creek behind our home all alone. Even when others are around they seem to remain quiet when Squeaky sounds his high-pitched "Hink" (not honk).

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