CRESTVIEW — Unlike the snowbirds residents welcome to Okaloosa County in December, a gaggle of the real thing took up summer residence rather than returning to Canada.
More than 30 Canadian geese have settled in the northeast Crestview neighborhood around Overview Drive, industriously “fertilizing” the private park running between its two lakes.
“I talked to a couple of people who said the numbers they are seeing, and the time of year, is unusual,” University of Florida Okaloosa County Extension Director Larry Williams said.
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission water fowl expert Jamie Feddersen said it’s possible the geese landed in town from a nearby location.
“There’s a potential that those are not migratory geese,” Feddersen said. “It’s completely possible, and most likely, that you got an expansion of a local resident population.”
The late spring’s cooler weather may have driven the fowl south from Alabama, Feddersen said.
‘THEY GIVE LIFE TO THE AREA’
The geese aren’t as aggressive as their larger American cousins, leaving residents divided in their opinion of their northern neighbors’ prolonged visit.
“What I like is they give some life to the area,” Isabelle Mills said. “It’s part of nature. We also have a blue heron who comes once in awhile. I think it is a good opportunity to teach children about nature.
“Sometimes the geese come over to our yard, but most of the time they go over to our neighbor because he feeds them. That causes problems because the neighbor next door to him doesn’t like them.”
Mills said during her morning walks with a friend, they sometimes encounter the geese in the park between the lakes, but they are careful to skirt the gaggle to avoid disturbing the birds.
And they watch where they step.
“Their droppings can be a problem around areas where people frequent, like parks and walking paths,” Williams said. “They can be a nuisance, especially with larger numbers.”
WATCH OUT FOR YOUNG ‘UNS
Should the gaggle take up residency, nest and produce goslings, the adult fowl could become protective of their young, Feddersen said.
“They are a tight family group,” he said. “When they have young, that’s when they get a little aggressive. If you start seeing young geese you might want to be careful around the adults.”
The visitors seem to be performing a public service for their Crestview hosts, Mills said.
“I’m afraid of snakes, and I think they are keeping the snakes away,” she said. “As long as they don’t swim in my pool, I like them. They are really no problem.”