clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Tracking & studying Chicago geese: Following up neck-band reports

Goose with neck band 96K at the slip north of 87th Street near Steelworkers Park on April 5.
Credit: Dale Bowman

A goose sporting a white band with black lettering around its neck kept hovering April 5 while I checked on a possible fish kill at the slip north of 87th Street near Steelworkers Park.

When I got home, I filed a report on reportband.gov.

On April 8, Rich Josepher texted and asked about how to gather information on a goose with neck band he saw the day before at the baseball field at St. Rita High School on the Southwest Side. I told him to go to reportband.gov.

I took that as a sign from above that it was time to check in on the Greater Chicago Metropolitan Area Canada goose project.

‘‘The guy that works on the field said he has seen as many as 20 with neck bands at one time,’’ Josepher texted. ‘‘I remembered reading your piece about Dan Bernstein a while back and figured it was from that Chicago banding program.’’

Josepher, who was drafted and played in the minors, helps coach baseball at St. Rita and, more important to me, called in the first turkey I shot.

A couple of years ago while we fished together, sports-talker Bernstein spotted a collared Canada goose at Burnham Harbor. That led me to Brett Dorak, who then was heading the Chicago goose project, and eventually to going along on a banding trip around the South Side with Dorak, Heath Hagy and Doug McClain.

I even helped band one (27P, 19907). Unfortunately, that wasn’t the one I saw April 5 at the slip; that one was 96K.

Both my and Josepher’s certificates of appreciation came this month.

Rich Josepher spotted this neck-collared Canada goose at the St. Rita baseball field on April 7.<br>Credit: Rich Josepher
Rich Josepher spotted this neck-collared Canada goose at the St. Rita baseball field on April 7.
Credit: Rich Josepher

My goose was banded by Chris Hine on July 13, 2016, near Chicago. It was hatched in 2015 or earlier. Josepher’s (C309) was banded by Dan Holm on June 27, 2012, in Blue Island. It was hatched in 2011 or earlier.

Dorak no longer heads the project; he is working for Montana Fish and Game. Ryan Askren is the graduate student now leading the project, which is primarily the work of the Illinois Natural History Survey. The study documents the where, what and when of Chicago’s urban geese.

Shortly after we reported our collars, Askren sent an email saying his latest tally had one goose in Michigan, four in Wisconsin, six in Ontario and 10 ‘‘still hanging in the Chicago area.’’

‘‘The goose last located in Michigan spent the winter in Tennessee, our farthest south individual this last season,’’ he emailed. ‘‘The variation in nesting strategies is interesting. One of our transmitter-marked birds is nesting in a natural(ish) cattail marsh, while another one, banded in the same location, has settled down touching an apartment patio. Incredibly adaptive birds.’’

The Greater Chicago Metropolitan Area Canada Goose project has shown how adaptable geese are, even in urban areas, such this one nesting by an apartment.<br>Credit: Illinois Natural History Survey
The Greater Chicago Metropolitan Area Canada Goose project has shown how adaptable geese are, even in urban areas, such this one nesting by an apartment.
Credit: Illinois Natural History Survey

While people who frequent the Chicago lakefront often see collared geese, reporting on the collars is important. Some of the geese are fitted with GPS transmitters, which sometimes malfunction. It helps to know where those birds are.

‘‘Please do continue to report neck collars and bands to the USGS Bird Banding Lab at reportband.gov,’’ Askren stressed. ‘‘We love as much data as we can get our hands on.’’

Science lives on data. Most of us recognize we all live on data.

Follow me on Twitter @BowmanOutside.

RELATED STORIES

Illinois fish records keep falling

Really big bass from hot Plainfield South team: Fish of the Week