You may have seen geese migrating south or hanging in a pond, and you may have even fed some. But sometimes, geese are not so nice. Geese attacks are not a myth and the birds can quickly become very mean, seriously injuring people. Mean geese are not just nasty, they can also be sloppy and gross, extremely loud, and just plain rude. What's up with these goose jerks anyway?
Geese are easily the meanest of all the species of waterfowl. Whether they're disturbing people on a golf course, being sucked into airplane engines, or attacking innocent bystanders, geese have been labeled as having a bad attitude. But they have some good qualities too. Geese excel at using teamwork to perfect their V formation, take care of their sick, and mate for life. They may be kind and courteous to their own kind, but when it comes to humans, mean geese have no qualms attacking... or worse.
Male geese, AKA ganders, are good mates who guard the nest as well as their females while their eggs are incubated. They take their duties extremely seriously and will aggressively defend their nests. Until the eggs hatch, ganders will patrol the area around the nest and use any mean necessary to deter intruders, including honking, hissing, or physical violence. Since the mating and hatching process takes place in spring, geese usually appear much more aggressive during this time.
Aggressive geese are simply defending their young. In the process, these future daddies may become a little overprotective and anal about it. Since they're not going to build their nest out in the open where predators can easily spot it, intruders usually can't see it and don't realize why a goose is really attacking. Angry geese may seem like complete jerks but don't take it personally. It's not you, it's them.
Because urban areas are full of food and water and don't have many predators, geese tend to congregate in the same spaces as humans. They enjoy our pretty fertilized lawns and beautiful ponds despite their private property status. They don't really care if you don't want them there, and they will take up residence wherever they want. That's pretty much how nature works.
However, geese are very territorial and will often come into conflict with people when their spaces overlap. If you hear about, witness, or experience a goose attack, it's most likely because the victim was taken for an intruder. Also, because they often live in such close proximity to people - some who may give them food - geese can lose their natural fear of humans and become much more aggressive and violent when they attack.
By now you probably realize geese can become very upset if you get too close to their babies, eggs, or nest. But what happens next? Geese will usually honk or hiss as a warning first, but they have been known to aggressively attack if an intruder does not leave. They may spread their wings, bob their head, and can even follow you as you leave if they still feel threatened. Although incidents of goose attacks don't happen all that often, humans and other creatures can be seriously injured by angry geese. People who have been attacked by geese have reported broken bones and head trauma.
Most people recognize the familiar honking sound geese make, especially that of Canadian geese. Sometimes, they just never seem to shut up. Geese honk as a form of communication and can be very loud during mating season. Since they are very territorial, geese will also loudly scream at one another when fighting and can yell or hiss at humans who get too close to their babies or nests.
You've probably noticed Canadian geese continually honking when flying in the air. In order to maintain their V formation, the geese honk to communicate with each other. The V formation allows the birds to easily keep track of one another and by flying slightly below the bird in front of them, the geese are able to cut down on wind resistance. The geese also switch leaders as they fly to conserve energy, and like fighter pilots, all these maneuvers require a lot of communication.