I CAN HEAR THE SUN By Patricia Polacco

A touching tale that will be treasured.

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The true tale of a Courageous Cape Cod Canada Goose.

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DUCE, BLACK CHEEK & DONNA
2004 through present (July 2011)
By Choo Choo Love


Black Cheek

2004: Before we introduce Duce, it is necessary that we introduce Black Cheek.

When we first became friends with Frank and Mrs. Frank in 2003, they had two little girls. One of them grew up to have black pimples on her right cheek, which was a very unique marking for a goose. We named her Black Cheek.
Black Cheek never warmed up to us. She was a skittish, nervous little goose. However, she was a true family girl, always staying close to her parents.


Duce

THE ROMANCE OF BLACK CHEEK AND DUCE

In the fall of 2004, a handsome gander began showing up around The Franks. He was obviously trying to court Black Cheek, who was a year old at that time. This gander was gregarious. Because of his two white eyebrows, we named him Duce. Duce was the complete opposite of Black Cheek. He was incredibly friendly toward us, often feeding from our hands. Duce was also very talkative and quite the showboat.

The Frank family tolerated Duce whenever he hung out with them. However, Black Cheek was obviously unprepared to go off with Duce and she was often seen just hanging out with her family without Duce. Later in the fall of 2004, we spotted them together but Black Cheek would be back with her family again, minus Duce the next day! They carried out this on-again, off-again romance until the spring of 2006 when they were seen together at all times, minus her family.
 

Black Cheek and Duce in April, 2007

They made a unique looking couple and Black Cheek became just  slightly less skittish with Duce to support and protect her.

Duce and Black Cheek never raised goslings during their  three year marriage.

2008

This spring, we looked in vain for Duce and Black Cheek. In the past, they would always show up in April. 

In mid-May, Duce showed up with another goose whom we named Donna. Duce recognized us instantly and fed from our hands.  It was strange to see him without Black Cheek because they had been so close for three years.


When Duce and Donna got together with Frank and Hope and Frank's two daughters, the reality of Black Cheek's absence hit home. Duce's return to the family fold with another goose emphasized the sad and inescapable fact that Black Cheek was gone.

For two weeks, Duce and Donna were seen with Frank and Hope and Frank's daughters. The Frank family migrated to their molting location June 11, 2008.



Duce and Donna, mid-May, 2008
 

Duce and Donna returned from the south in mid-September of 2008. However, they remained apart from the threesome of Frank, Hope and Fran. We wondered if perhaps the absence of Black Cheek might have caused the separation from Frank`s family because Duce and Donna were not directly related to Frank. Perhaps it was also a statement that Duce had grown up and didn`t need to be with Frank's family. Or perhaps Duce and Donna simply preferred to be alone together without Frank bossing them around. 


Duce and Donna, September 2008


Donna and Duce are a wonderful couple. She is sweet and gentle and very friendly, often coming up to us for a treat. One distinguishing feature about Donna is her constant muttering. Whenever I look for her, all I have to do is listen for her muttering and sure enough, she's there!

Duce and Donna got together with Frank, Hope and Fran in mid-October. The family migrated south November 7, 2008.

2009


By the end of May, Duce and Donna had not appeared at the park and we feared that we would not be seeing them again.

Then, on June 12, when we were mingling with about a hundred goslings and their parents, Earl pointed out a goose to me.

"This goose looks sinister," he said, keeping a safe distance from the goose. "And he has a very young gosling."

Earl is unable to recognize individual geese like I do so I went up to take a closer look and lo and behold, the "sinister" gander was Duce! With him was Donna and their 4-5 day old gosling.


JUNE 12, 2009: Duce and Donna with their 4-5 day old gosling


Duce and Donna did look sinister because they were maintaining protective postures with their necks stretched out and snaking the ground. They were just being protective of their little one.

Their gosling tottered over to join the gang broods and seemed to be at ease among the much older goslings. We had to herd him back to Duce and Donna but he kept getting swallowed in the rush of goslings. We feared that they'd lose their gosling to the gang broods but we hoped they'd be able to hang on to their child and raise him over the summer.

PLEASE CLICK HERE FOR A VIDEOCLIP OF DUCE AND DONNA AND THEIR GOSLING


When we visited the next day, Duce and Donna flew to us without their gosling. They appeared to be in good spirits but we felt sad. We've known Duce since 2004 and he has never once remained at the park over the summer. Most of the parents who lose their goslings to gang broods leave to molt and don't return till September and we fully expected Duce and Donna to do the same thing.

 
June 17: Duce and Donna's gosling in the land of Giants!

To our surprise and delight, Duce and Donna decided to remain at the park for the summer. This is the first time in the six years of our friendship with Duce that he has been here over the summer. We think they decided to remain to keep an eye on their gosling. Even though their gosling does not recognize them as parents, they recognize their gosling. We hoped they would have a chance to reunite with their gosling and we think they hope for the same thing to happen.

Sadly, there was no such reunion. When the molt was over, they flew off to enjoy their new flight feathers and returned in mid-September, just the two of them. They often hang out with Frank, Mrs. Frank and Fran when they're at the park but they don't fly out with them.

Duce and Donna migrated south with Frank, Mrs. Frank and Fran November 12.


Duce feeds from my hand. He will only feed from our hand if we offer him cracked corn! If we offer him anything else, he walks away! However, when he feeds from the ground, he is not as fussy. He reserves his fussiness for feeding from our hands!



JULY 19, 2010: Earl and I were gone for a month and returned July 7. Since our return, we have been busy looking out for Hubble, the goose with the fishing line injury, so we have not returned to our old routine of feeding our park geese in the afternoons. Since our area has grown so much over the last ten years, newcomers have moved in and we have  had some nasty encounters with goose hating parkgoers. Those encounters have turned us off of visiting the park as often as we used to. I have been walking through the park in the evenings keeping an eye out for Hubble and this evening, I was walking among a flock of geese when I spotted Duce and Donna. They recognized me and came right up with enquiring looks, hoping for a treat but unfortunately, I didn't have any food on me. I returned about a half hour later with food but they were gone. Still, it was wonderful to see them and to know they're safe and well. They must have turned up at the park with their gosling or goslings during the time we were away and once again, sadly lost them to the gang broods.

Duce and Donna returned from pond hopping in mid-September. Hope, who had returned earlier, joined them and the trio were seen everywhere most of the time. Bob joined Hope off and on and Duce and Donna would then just be a couple. They all flew south November 13, 2010.

JULY 2011

It was a wonderful surprise to be greeted by Duce and Donna again. They were childless and we suspect that they lost their goslings to the gang broods and decided to remain at the park over the summer once again. As in the previous two years, they will probably not reunite with their goslings but as long as they're healthy and happy, we are happy for them. This will be our 8th year of friendship with our dear Duce and our 4th with sweet Donna.





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