As the Geese Fly South

I live on the edge of water at Rocky Point on the Pend Oreille River. It’s a magical place, only a mile out of Sandpoint yet secluded for the most part and as October wanes into November and the lake drops to its lowest level, my home is a sanctuary for geese and ducks of all variety because the seaweed, including a lot of millfoil, lies in thick batches right at the surface: easy pickings.

There is a certain beauty in the way geese take to flight, running across the top of the water to gain speed until they have enough to cause lift under their wings. It's a wonderful thing to see up close. Photo by Dwayne Parsons

There is a certain beauty in the way geese take to flight, running across the top of the water to gain speed until they have enough to cause lift under their wings. It’s a wonderful thing to see up close. Photo by Dwayne Parsons

As the Geese Fly South, It’s the Song of Winter Approaching

The primary goose here is the Canadian Honker. They call them “honkers” because of the vocal sound they make. At night, especially under the full moon, it’s a chorus of gaggling geese, competing, challenging, talking and protecting as if they were in some sort of discussion.

Maybe they are laying plans for their flight south. Maybe they’re discussing the hunters that lie in wait along their route. Maybe they are just happy. But they certainly sound a lot like a community, all vying for a voice.

Do geese have a runway? It sure appears that they follow the leader during take off.

Do geese have a runway? It sure appears that they follow the leader during take off.


During the day, when I and my dog walk down to the beach it’s a sure thing to see them take flight. As in these photos, they literally run across the surface, wings spread, flapping a bit and then a lot as they gain enough speed and air to lift their reasonably heavy bodies off the water.

And the lead bird leads with enthusiasm, always...honking and talking to the others behind.

And the lead bird leads with enthusiasm, always…honking and talking to the others behind.


It’s a graceful thing. Not awkward at all.

It always brings a smile to my face.