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They’re (almost) back! Canada Geese descend on Maryland

If you are in Ocean City this week, you may notice a couple of changes as you drive down Coastal Highway. The speed limit, normally 40 mph through North Ocean City, has been reduced to 30 mph, and Downtown, the speed limit has also been reduced. This is due to the expected, unauthorized H2Oi Pop-Up Rally.  It is reasonable to expect heavier than usual traffic, noise and strict enforcement of vehicle laws during the week and weekend.

The winter migration is ramping toward its peak right now as the summer and fall birds swing south for warmer climes and the snowbirds hit Maryland’s shores once again.

Due to a cold snap up Canada way, we may be seeing fewer little goosey puffballs come spring, which is probably a good thing. The birds apparently used up their stored fat reserves to keep warm in earlier months which is likely to lead to less young later.
 
The geese, to be sure, can be a nuisance and we’re going to continue to poke fun at how annoying they can be until the end of this article, but the mother-father-gosling goose parade in springtime is adorable for a time.
 
Then the goslings become teenagers and everything ends with teenagers.
 
When Maryland drivers aren’t dodging deer this time of year they’re stopped behind a row of 2,000 geese slowly crossing the street.
 
Maybe it just feels like 2,000 geese. It was probably four. However, as anyone caught behind such a downy parade can attest to; the difference between a procession of 2,000 birds and only four is a paltry one at best.
Those four birds would lose a race to 18 turtles. They would beat 11 snails, but not 12.
 
Besides their abominable lack of ground speed they appear to have evolved the innate ability to cross only at those most dangerous of chokepoints on Maryland roads such as the entrance to an Annapolis restaurant or and Ocean City hotel. When I have a reservation, it is clear that some goose somewhere is copied on the memo.
 
Even though the number of births this year is expected to dwindle, the previous years have seen record populations – and many of those birds are still alive. They tend to look for standing water that hasn’t iced over (most places now since this has been a warm couple of weeks) with access to fields they can find food in. This pretty much sounds like 80% of the Eastern Shore at this time of year.
 
For hunters, this is good news for a few reasons. First, there appear to be plenty of birds, and second it’s the season to hunt them. Third is likely the least important but could be the most welcome: The temperatures have been higher than normal, which means no freezing in the blind. Apparently the goose season runs until the end of this week (Nov. 26) but we strictly disavow any detailed knowledge on the subject. If you’re a hunter you know and if you don’t know ask a hunter for regional details and the salient facts.
 
The changes in season bring about certain other inevitable changes be they deer, or geese, or in-laws or shopping or decorations or whatever else is going on. Luckily we’re here to help you keep track of everything.
 
The birding on the Eastern Shore is notably and frequently fantastic – and this is just another part of that system. The predictions of possibly fewer geese come spring are welcome and since we’re already looking out for deer, keeping an eye out for something potentially less deadly isn’t too far out of our way.

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