News and Tribune

April 10, 2014

GREGORY: Bird’s of a different feather

Local guest columnist

— Right outside the city limits here at Charlestown, we — my wife Anita and our three sons — have some acreage and a small lake. Each of us have our home surrounding the lake.

On the back of the property, a newlywed couple live in a mobile home. She, Julia, is from Philadelphia and works at UPS. Tony, her husband, is from South Carolina and he is into woodworking. He also seems to be talented in gardening and mechanics, and about anything he tries seems to be right up his alley.

Julia, who had never been around any animals other than domestic pets, decided that she would like to raise some chickens so as to have her on fresh eggs. Well, Tony got his act together and built her a nice chicken pen, which enclosed a coop with a ladder leading to a high-rise where there were nesting boxes and roosting perches. Soon, there came a box of chicks fresh from the hatchery. A few months later, she was providing her family and us plus a few others all the fresh eggs we could use.

One Easter season about two years ago as Julia was at the feed store, she saw these cute little ducklings and decided she had to bring three of these little fellows home. Right away, Tony built these little avians a coop of their own. She named them Huey, Dewey and Louie. She fed and watered them morning and evening religiously.

As they grew, she let them out of their cages and they would follow her everywhere. But, she would put them back in their cages before dark. After a few months, these little guys were spending most of their time down in the lake. By this time, Tony had decided — due to the size of these dudes — that Julia had bought three white goslings instead of ducklings. Julia decided that the geese were big enough by this time that they would be safe out in the lake at night, especially because they were usually in the midst of at least a hundred brown Canada geese who drop by to visit every few days. They stay a couple of days then take off again to some other lakes in the area.

It was neat hearing Julia each morning and evening, calling, “Huey, Dewey, Louie.” Without fail, they would waddle up to their bowls and devour their cracked corn.

One day as Julia was backing out of her drive, she ran over one of her pets, which devastated her. I don’t think she went to work that day. The other two geese went on as usual, still swimming amid the Canada geese and taking their feedings and their usual things.

As would happen, a few weeks went by and as she went out to feed, she found a pile of feathers, but found one goose missing. Again, she was mourning the loss of her other pet and was pondering on how she was to keep Louie safe. (I’ll take a chance and guess he’s Louie.)

She decided that she had but one choice, and that was to let nature take its course.

Now, none of us had ever seen any of these geese fly other than see them get spooked and take off for a short distance. From that, we assumed they were not flying geese, per se. Now, this white goose would stand out alone with among these Canada geese and follow them everywhere, except aloft. Then we started noticing him taking to the air along with them, only to fly a short curving distance and then drop back down into the lake as the others continued on, leaving Louie alone in the water.

This pattern was repeated every few days as the geese returned, until one day Anita and I were talking with Julia and Tony and we all agreed that we hadn’t seen Louie in a few days. Well, a couple days later Tony called excitedly and said, “ I just saw this flock of brown Canada geese flying overhead in a V formation with a white goose on the right of the leading goose. He looked so beautifully out of place, Tony said.

Tony and Julia have since moved back to Philadelphia, but Anita and I regularly see Louie among the geese on the lake. I personally haven’t seen him in formation, but Anita has.

So, if any of you around this area see this so beautifully out of place white goose, you will know from where it originated.

— Charlie Gregory is a Charlestown resident.