A Rhubarb of Geese

Where I live in Minnesota, the skies are full of wanderers right now. On my daily walks, I regularly see skeins of Canada geese flying overhead, conversing loudly. Call me crazy, but have you ever noticed that--from a distance--the honking of geese sounds . . . well . . almost human? I can't count the times I've whipped my head around, sure I've just heard a man shouting from across the lake, or a bunch of kids playing down the street, only to see the ubiquitous vee of geese approaching. Our calls--ours and theirs--must occur in the same general tonal pitch.

Today, as I was fooled by yet another flock of geese, I thought of my high school thespian days. While onstage, in order to simulate a crowd talking amongst themselves, we were always told to murmur the word "rhubarb" to each other.

Maybe that's what the geese are doing: muttering a form of "rhubarb" to each other. Not to simulate anything--or even to fool us into thinking they are one of our kind--but just to keep track of each other on the long ride south. 

canada goose 2

Photo from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology Canada goose page, where you can also hear their flight call.

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