December 2, 2008

Over my head

by winecountrydog

I've been putting my nose in the air a lot lately to check out what's going on over my head. Outside, that is. I started hearing honking on Thanksgiving. Lots of different honking. This has been going on at different times of the day and evening.

Finally I saw them: birds who honk as they fly! I ran right back inside to dog-google this phenonomen.

flock of Canadian Geese flying in formation
It turns out that my doghaus is right under the Pacific Flyway, a major north-south route of travel for migratory birds. The honkers I hear are Canadian geese making their way from the nearby Laguna de Santa Rosa to points south!

Methinks this is arfully interesting. The Canadian goose species is called Branta canadensis. Baby geese are called goslings. See the cute gosling in photo below.

Baby gosling
Bird lovers say that migratory birds travel some or all of the same route every year, at around the same time. (Howl do they know? I wonder.)

The geese like to stop at Laguna de Santa Rosa because it's an impawtant food source.

The Laguna is a 14-milelong (22.5 kilometer) wetlands area in Sonoma County, California, and the largest tributary of Mark West Creek. The Laguna's main tributary streams rise on southern slopes of the Mayacamas and Sonoma Mountains.

The Laguna has different habitat types, including freshwater riparian forest and freshwater seasonal wetlands and vernal pools, and a tule marsh. Some rare and endangered species, like the California freshwater shrimp, are found there. . . . Or maybe I should say, are rarely found there. Still, the Laguna de Santa Rosa is the area's most abundant and biologically diverse wildlife habitat. Humans call it an ecological "national treasure."

More than 200 species of birds besides my honking furriends either reside in the Laguna or stop to feed and rest there when they're migrating.

Now, my story gets more interesting: There's a question in my dogmind and ear about what the honkers are really up to this time of year. Are they flying south, or are they circling back to the Laguna?

According to ornithologists, bird migration routes have changed in some areas due to changes in habitat and food sources. In mild climates, such as in my area and up into parts of the Pacific Northwest, it is known that some of the bird populations have become non-migratory because they don't have to deal with former predators. Methinks my local honkers might have joined the non-migrators' club.

I can't yet prove that my flying furriends are faking migration. Right now, it's all over my head. I'm just a clueless corgi who watches the sky and wonders.

1 comment:

pawlitico said...

Last night I saw geese fly right over my head in formation when I was out doing my business. And I heard 'em again tonight. I think they fly over Sonoma Valley to watch all the winetastin' and then go back to the Laguna. Does this seem too quackers? Stranger things happen 'round these parts.