The sound of Canada geese taking to the air:
The woods and waterways – stream, ponds, marsh, waterfall – down the hill from my home draw nature’s musicians: the barred owl, various frogs, a pack of coyotes, one or two families of mallard ducks, some great percussionists (the woodpecker with its stunning staccato, and the beaver with its shotgun-slap), as well as thousands of Canada geese nearing the end of their fall migration.
Every morning for the past week or so, a new gathering of geese has taken to the air, circled around the upper pond below my home (the pond that is farther upstream on the waterway that supplies the ponds and the reedy marsh that are home to all this diversity), and headed toward their winter home. I use the generic term “gathering” because there are different names for groups of geese, depending on how they are gathered.
On the ground, a group of geese is called a gaggle: a collection of geese (the female), ganders (the male), and possibly goslings (the youngsters – though by this time of year, the goslings are fairly well grown up). In the air, a group of geese might be called a skein, a team, or a wedge – and when they are flying especially close together, they can be called a plump.
The Canada goose – yes, use the female designation when referring to Branta canadensis – is an energetic migrator, considered native to all of North America and (of course) Canada, but has also reached northern Europe on the wing – covering tremendous distances at a typical altitude of about 3,000 feet (although they sometimes rise to several times that altitude).
The recording found at the top of this post is of a large flock of Canada geese as they take off, circle the pond they left from, and then head off in multiple skeins, or wedges.