Review of The Geese of Beaver Bog by Bernd Heinrich
This beautiful story is about a Canada Goose that returned to its home in Vermont on-and-off for four years since it was born on the front lawn of the author. She had a sibling, who shortly passed on after its birth. The tale of this goose begins in 1998 and the book finishes up in October of 2002, which doesn’t mean that “Peep,” as she was named, didn’t come back after that time.
Peep’s maiden flight was alongside the author’s truck at 45 mph. She couldn’t quite make it to 50, but she sure tried. Basically, this bird attempted to follow the family wherever they went, and they had to sneak out of the house in order to go anywhere. Imagine having a goose in tow? Peep was attracted by the sound of the truck’s motor. She could have considered it related to a flock, as flocks are noisy.
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The family actually raised this goose, who naturally was imprinted upon them. She presumably migrated in the fall, but returned in the March of 2000. She also returned with a mate, who was dubbed “Pop,” and he soon also tolerated the family. A non-nesting pair destroyed Peep and Pop’s four eggs in a nearby upper pond. The author visits with them both at the pond and at his home, so it is fair to say that both geese are imprinted.
In 2001, there is a turn of events, as Peep has a new mate that was called “Jack,” another denizen of the pond. Pop took up housekeeping with Jack’s old mate, Jane.
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In 2002, Peep does not return to the area, but makes a guest appearance just before she migrates with a third male. She makes a stop at the house with a few other geese, but really is not allowed to stay due to these geese. She leaves the author, either by chance or deliberately, one of her feathers and leaves.
This book also touches on the lives of other birds, namely the Red-Winged Blackbird, as well as beavers, but not to the extent that Peep was the guest star.
Bernd Heinrich learns a good deal about geese, their habits, and is somewhat invited into their lives. He literally sees geese that are just hatched from the egg, and is introduced into the lives of these wonderful birds, though at times, he is just tolerated.
This is truly a wonderful story that will open one’s eyes to the beauty and life of wild birds, as well as actual hazards that they must live with on a daily basis. It touches a bit upon scientific aspects, as well, but was not written for that purpose. It was written painstakingly, as well as attentively. There are twists and turns here and there, but it is a wonderful read.
Mr. Heinrich’s style of writing is truly his own and uncovers many things that only the true naturalist is privy to in the wild.
This book is a must-read to all those that love and admire birds, for it will open one’s eyes to those secret lives, as well as the hardships encountered. Not all stories have a happy ending, and this book covered a lot more than a simple story. It’s true that there were emotional points in this book, but that can happen with any writings of this nature. Bravo to Bern Heinrich for a well-done work on the life of the Canada Goose!