When the driver saw the line of geese, he knew that he had to stop for them. After all, what was a few minutes of his time to save several lives? It was a kind thing to do, but as the driver waited, he realized that he’d grossly underestimated the situation.
If you saw a bird on the road, would you stop for it or keep going and hope that it would move? Surprisingly, traffic collisions kill more birds per year than you’d expect – far more than hunters or wind turbines, in fact. The actual number is quite astonishing.
In 2014 Oklahoma State University’s Scott Loss performed a study in conjunction with several avian authorities. It revealed that vehicles take the lives of an estimated 340 million birds per year in the U.S. alone. Loss subsequently spoke to USA Today about his research.
“Everyone who’s spent significant time in a car has probably hit a bird,” Loss explained. He said that he himself had been a passenger in a vehicle when a bird had collided with the windshield. Loss described the incident as being “like a rock hitting the window.”
With that in mind, then, you can imagine how much worse the incidents are as the birds become bigger. Geese are large, so collisions are best avoided for the sake of both a vehicle’s passengers and the birds. However, that can also create other problems.
For example, two men uploaded footage to YouTube of an encounter with some geese that took place in July 2017. In the video’s description, one of the men explained that he’s a laborer by trade. Not only does he specialize in roofing and siding, but he also runs his own business.
And it was for this reason that he and a friend were driving along a country road in Berlin, Connecticut. Apparently, his GPS system took the pair along the “scenic route” to their next assignment. However, they were to encounter some unforeseen obstacles during their journey.
The driver in fact noticed a line of geese waddling across the road ahead. This isn’t especially unusual during June and July, because it’s a goose’s molting season. Molting is another word for shedding feathers, and it happens in most bird species.
Most birds even molt their flight feathers a little bit at a time. It’s slightly different for geese, ducks and swans, though. That’s because they shed these feathers simultaneously. As a result, they are incapable of flying for about a month and have to walk or swim everywhere.
So as the video shows, the OP does the decent thing and stops for the geese. But it isn’t just a few birds that hurry across; the panning camera reveals just how many there are. And the OP can be heard exclaiming that it’s like “revenge of the birds.”
The onlookers can’t believe what they’re seeing – the flock of geese in fact stretches right across a nearby field. Although witnessing so many beautiful birds is a wonderful sight, the sheer number of them is mind-boggling. “The line goes all the way back,” the OP observes.
Meanwhile, his friend is equally awestruck by the gaggle of geese and adds, “This is our holiday delight.” The camera pans right to reveal the birds’ destination: a river reaching into the distance. Unable to fly, they’re all heading for the relative safety of the water.
As they hit the river’s surface, the geese swim behind each other just as uniformly as they walk. Yet the line of birds shows no sign of abating. The guys now start to realize that the birds could delay them for a long time.
After trying to hurry the geese along verbally, the OP notices a gap big enough to drive through. So he wastes no time in exploiting the lull by driving down the road while he can. And with that, the driver and his companion bid the birds a fond farewell.
As the guys drive past, the footage shows just how many geese are waiting. Even after allowing so many to cross, there’s still a massive line of them stretching across the field. “Look at all of them, that’s crazy,” the OP remarks.
The video subsequently became a hit on social media. Indeed, it’s since been viewed by two million people and shared by thousands. And it would appear that plenty of other people can relate to the driver’s plight. Some viewers relayed their own personal experiences with feathered pedestrians.
One commenter uploaded a photo of a bird crossing incident, along with a light-hearted explanation. “Every damn day, they just stand there,” it read. “I have to get out of the car and run at them with my arms spread out like an idiot so they’ll move.”
But why do geese gather in such large groups? Well, there are several reasons, and the first is that they’re social birds. Not only do most geese form lifelong bonds with their partners, but they also come together for protection. There’s safety in numbers, after all.
The more members there are in the group – or gaggle – the more eyes that they have to keep an eye out for predators. Furthermore, members of the group form a rotating schedule, taking it in turns to be on look-out duty. It doesn’t all seem to be about survival, though.
Geese have even been observed mourning the loss of a mate and looking after injured members of the gaggle. The video is a reminder of how much of our world we share with nature. And it’s also a good example of how a little patience can go a long way.