Geese take flight, land at Oswego State

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With the approaching warm weather, the Oswego State campus, faculty and students, are working together in order to find why so many geese are attracted to the campus and how weather affects their migration pattern.

Schummer and some undergraduate students are currently in the second year of their study and are using remote cameras to monitor the timing and intensity of the geese coming from Quebec to New York.

“We are able to determine the effects of weather on the daily movement patterns of birds but we really don’t have this long-term data set yet to be able to understand how climate change is going to affect them,” Schummer said. “That’s going to take multiple years of data up to 10 years of data with multiple undergraduate programs.”

Through his studies, Schummer hopes to answer out of his studies is how the weather severity influences the timing of the geese moving through central New York and how often they forage in local farm fields.”

Weather does motivate migration patterns, which is something that affected the geese last winter, in which they stayed on campus for an additional month. According to Schummer, the severity of the Oswego weather indicates how long the Canada geese stay on the campus.
The Canada Goose found at the bottom of the picture is one of the larger ones in the sub-species.

There are two types of geese within the same species. There’s a migratory and non-migratory, resident geese.

“The giant Canada goose is the resident goose that we have on campus that generally stays here most of the year,” Schummer said. “They’ll move a little bit south and then come back.”

We see these geese twice per year; once in the fall and once in the spring.

Schummer said that these kinds of geese almost went extinct as Wisconsin. Wildlife biologists found less than 100 of them in Wisconsin and the geese were reintroduced in areas around the Great Lakes.

The Canada geese are attracted to Oswego’s campus because of its location.

“They generally do well where there’s a little bit of water and grass for the most part,” Schummer said.

The mowed parts of grass leading into the lake cause the geese to feel secure, according to Schummer, which has caused nesting areas by Glimmerglass Lagoon and the Rice Creek Field Station in various marshes.

“The green grass is really what brings them here,” Schummer said. “They’re really just cows with wings. “

While he is aware the Canada geese are nuisances, he stresses that geese are not dangerous but are territorial, especially during breeding season.

“If you get a little too close to them, they’ll give you a little nip,” Schummer said. “It stings a little bit but I wouldn’t say they’re dangerous.”

Schummer considers the Canada geese a friendlier comparison to the mute swans, which are larger than Canada geese and even more territorial.

“I would say they’re dangerous,” Schummer said.

With any animal, Schummer believes people should work toward ensuring their existence. He is aware, however, that geese are problematic on the campus from their droppings to students thinking they are aggressive.

“I don’t think it’s a question of ‘are they important?’ Schummer said. “I mean, they’re here and I don’t that there’s much we can do about that.”

While the campus has been relatively empty, as of late, Schummer said once the students leave for the summer the geese will make their true return.