FRANK, MRS. FRANK & HOPE
August 2003 - November 2013
Frank was our long time pal from the very first year that we befriended geese.
We became friends with Frank and Mrs Frank in August 2003 when they had two goslings whom we named Black Cheek and Fran.
Frank had a heart shaped white cheek pattern, a glossy jet black head, a stout, muscular build, and often ran with his body close to the ground like a battle tank. He also had a low, gentle mooing call. Frank was always the first to recognize us, no matter where we were, and no matter how long it had been since he last saw us. He would swoop toward us with absolutely no hesitation and greet us with an exuberant clamor of honks.
Mrs. Frank was a slender, willowy girl. She also had prominent white circles around her protruding eyes and in certain poses, she would remind us of ET (from the movie ET). Mrs. Frank was shy, sweet and gentle and a staunch supporter of Frank. It took three years for her to come up to us and shyly take food from our hand.
Frank and Mrs. Frank were mated for the first four years of our friendship with them. They had goslings for three of the four years. We don`t know how long they were mated before we got to know them in 2003.
You can imagine our sadness when Frank returned in the spring of 2007 with another goose. Knowing the hardships they face, we knew there would come a day when some of our friends would not return but we were not prepared to see Frank without his dutiful, sweet and gentle wife who always stood beside him and who always offered him moral support during battles with other ganders, whether he won or lost.
Frank's new mate, whom we named Hope, was injured, bleeding from her right foot and limping badly. Since Frank was with her and they were at least a good mile down the railroad tracks and it was bitterly cold, we could not capture her. We left them copious amounts of cracked corn and returned the following week. To our surprise, Hope had completely healed! There was nary a trace of her injury and she walked normally. Perhaps the food we brought helped in her quick recovery because they did not have to forage for food in her injured condition.
Hope began nesting a few days later and just like Mrs. Frank, had such a well concealed nest that we never discovered it.
Hope, injured right foot on March 30, 2007
We were puzzled that Frank had brought Hope to Mrs. Frank's nest site. The gander usually follows his goose to a nest site of her choosing. However, it would not be inconceivable that Hope was probably a very young goose with no established nest site and Frank, being the much more mature gander, brought her back to his established nest site.
Hope abandoned her nest in early May and Frank was seen with another goose. Perhaps he was disheartened by the nesting failure and decided to look for a new mate. Obviously, their relationship was not strong enough to weather the nesting failure. We named his new mate May.
Frank with May: May 3, 2007
During this time of instability for Frank, Hope showed up at the park May 11, 2007.
Hope, May 16 2007
Now that we had a chance to get up close to Hope, we were amazed at her remarkable resemblance to Mrs. Frank when seen from the front (take a look at Mrs. Frank's photos above), from her tiny, willowy, slender body, to the length of her black neck, her white eye-rings (though not as prominent as Mrs. Frank's) and even the way she carried herself (gracefully, shyly, hesitatingly). However, her side profile was different (look at Mrs. Frank's side profile above) and her neck and face were jet black. Mrs. Frank`s neck and face were gray. Hope never gave us ET like poses. She was more graceful than Mrs. Frank, who had a somewhat awkward gait at times. She was also not as skittish.
Hope, side profile.
Hope appeared to have a cut in her right shoulder, probably sustained during the injury that caused the bleeding and the limp that we noticed during our first meeting March 30.
Poor Hope was utterly alone, tormented by the other geese, and we hoped that Frank would show up and they'd get together again or that she'd find him somehow.
Frank flew off to molt with his extended family but not with Hope.
August 31, 2007: Frank returns from molt with Hope and Fran, his 4-year old daughter. Hope is standing along the shore and Frank is in the foreground.
On August 31, 2007, we had a nice surprise when Frank returned from molt with Hope and his four-year old daughter, Fran. Frank appeared to be friendly with Hope, preening and bathing beside her. Hope's shoulder injury had completely healed.
However, two days later, Frank was back with May and Hope was all alone again. Frank and May were in extremely high spirits and Frank appeared to be rather agitated, bumping up close to May's body, nipping her on her neck. He fought with a couple of ganders, won the fights and returned to celebrate his victory with May, who responded. He appeared to be showing off for her.
Frank and May, September 2, 2007
We were disappointed. We had hoped that Frank and Hope would mate but now it appeared that he was still infatuated with May.
Frank surprised us by flying in with Hope the following week! Hope was exuberant, brimming over with confidence, feisty in her behavior toward other geese, the complete opposite of her shy, hesitant, skittish self when she was alone. She cackled with Frank, rushed some geese off the grain with him, shared a pile of grain with him, nipped at ducks who ventured too close to them, and appeared confident and secure. Obviously, having a partner was beneficial for Hope. We were happy for her but unsure about their relationship and how long it would last.
Frank and Hope (standing) September 2007
We were happy to observe that Frank and Hope were together all the time after that until they migrated south with Frank's extended family November 14, 2007. May had disappeared from the scene by then.
Frank and Hope returned from the south together in the spring of 2008 and we were thrilled when Hope began nesting in the same location where Mrs. Frank used to nest.
Hope's nesting attempt failed and they showed up at the park pond in early May. They were not in their usual high spirits and they had very little appetite. They seemed depressed. They remained at the park for a few days, then flew off for two weeks. They returned with Frank's extended family of Duce, who used to be mated to Frank's daughter, Black Cheek and five year old Fran (Frank's daughter). The family migrated north to molt in early June.
Frank and Hope in early May, 2008.
Frank and Hope returned from molt in mid-September with Fran. The threesome were seen doing all things together. While Frank was tolerant of Fran's presence, three was a crowd to Hope and she was often seen trying to get that message across to poor Fran who seemed oblivious to Hope's displeasure.
I'm feeding Frank and Hope while Fran lingers behind.
Frank, Hope and Fran migrated south November 7 after a snowstorm. With them were Duce and his new mate, Donna (please visit DUCE`S PAGE to follow his story) and other members of Frank's extended family.
We had to wait until most of the snow melted from the playing field before we could make our way out toward Frank's nest site. Frank had the most inaccessible nest site of all our geese friends. It was mid-way down a 2-mile long railway track and with my foot problems and Earl's health problems, we had not been able to walk down the tracks to visit the geese this year. We fed the geese at both ends of the tracks instead.
By mid-April, most of the snow had melted from the field and we could walk along the fence separating the field from the railway tracks. We had discovered a fairly deep hole beneath the fence two years ago, though my memory of how we actually discovered this hole eludes me at the moment.
Even though the bottom of the hole was quite muddy, nothing was going to stop me from going under to check to see if my dear Frank had returned.
Please CLICK HERE for a videoclip of me going under the fence to visit Frank!
APRIL 17, 2009: Frank returns for the 7th year
I was so busy enjoying Frank that I didn't spot Hope until she was almost on top of us. She looked beautiful and sweet, our tender goose and Frank's mate for the last two years. Hope didn't hang around for long. It was obvious that she was anxious to return to her nest.
APRIL 17, 2009: A joyous reunion! Frank and Hope return from the south.
Please CLICK HERE for a videoclip of Frank and Hope on our reunion!
Please CLICK HERE for a short videoclip of Frank flying to me.
Sadly, they abandoned their nest and returned to the park pond May 12. They were at the park again May 29 and both appeared to be in good spirits. Frank engaged in a long and thorough bath, tipping himself over and over in the cool waters while Hope watched from the shore. Everything appeared to be fine with them.
Frank and Hope were gone from the park for four days.
On June 2, Frank returned to the park with his six-year old daughter, Fran. We looked for Hope while Frank and Fran fed and words cannot convey our shock when Mrs. Frank walked up beside Frank! I couldn`t believe my eyes and took many photos and videoclips so that I would have proof that I wasn`t seeing things. Hope was no where in sight and this goose was definitely not Hope. To be absolutely sure this goose was Mrs. Frank, I rushed home to compare her photos with the many photos I`d taken of her years ago and sure enough, it was her! There was no mistaking her slender, willowy form, her protruding eyes, her prominent white eye rings and her behavior toward us and Frank. She was the same shy, sweet goose and she recognized us, coming up to stand close to us.
Mrs. Frank, photo taken June 2, 2009
This is a photo of Hope
Frank and Mrs. Frank, June 3 2009
We had mixed feelings about seeing Mrs. Frank. On the one hand, we were overjoyed that she was alive and well. When she did not return in 2007, we had concluded sadly that she had not survived the previous winter or the migration south. Whatever caused their two year long separation we will never know. We can only guess what may have happened when Frank and Hope flew to a reunion with family May 30. We guess that Mrs. Frank was waiting for Frank there and he decided to get back with her as she was his long lost love and mother of his goslings. Poor Hope was dumped!
Over the last two years, we had grown to love sweet, charming Hope. We'd been there when she was injured and when she was on her own, she regarded us as her friends, coming up to us for support whenever the other geese bullied her. Then, when she got together again with Frank, we were ecstatic. When her nesting attempts failed, we were saddened, knowing the importance of motherhood to her and for her ongoing relationship to Frank. Now that Hope was on her own again, we were once again saddened, knowing that losing Frank meant that she'd drop to the very bottom of the pecking order again. We hoped she'd return to the park.
From Left: Frank, Fran and Mrs. Frank October 2009
Frank, Mrs. Frank, Fran, Duce and Donna migrated south November 12, 2009. For the past few years, we have observed that Frank no longer remains until it's marsh freezing cold to migrate. Some geese from our city are the last ones to migrate and when we first got to know Frank, he used to hang around till either a snowstorm or the frozen pond indicated to him that it was time to go. But in recent years, that has not been the case. I expected him to go south earlier and he did even though it was mild the day he migrated, with a high of 52F. Perhaps his maturity has caused the change in migration habits but we prefer that our geese head south earlier as we don't have to worry about them encountering bad weather on the way. There are plenty of places that they can stop to rest and feed as well and that should provide them with a much safer trip south.
Our beloved goose, Frank, returns for the 8th year!
Due to an unusually warmer than normal spring, many geese returned to our city by mid-March. But not Frank. On April 5th, I crawled beneath the fence to look for him. I spotted a goose beside the railway line so I began calling for Frank. Soon, another goose appeared beside this goose and both tentatively walked in my direction. I showed them my bag of grain and slowly, one made his way through the bulrushes and marsh toward me, while the other remained beside the track. This couldn`t possibly be Frank, I told myself. He would have flown to me or honked to me to let me know who he was. I`d never known Frank to take a long time to come and greet me.
So when this goose finally came up to me, I took a good close look at him and lo and behold, it was Frank! I couldn`t believe my eyes! There was no mistaking his glossy jet black head, the white ring around his eyes, his beautiful smooth white cheek pattern, his gentle mooing and when I offered him grain, he took it from my hand, as he always did. So why was he so hesitant? I guess it had to do with his mate not wanting to come up to me. She stood beside the track the whole time that Frank fed and socialized with me, me savoring every moment with him as I remembered our friendship over the years. What an absolutely glorious, joyous day!
Sadly, that was the last time I saw my friend. Frank did not return to our park this fall. This is the first fall that we have not seen Frank since the fall of 2003 so it`s been a sad autumn for us. Fall is just not the same without Frank. We miss our dear friend. Deep down, I have a feeling that he is safe with his new mate at her pond. I hope that is, indeed, the case and that he will someday return to our pond. Since Frank did not return, neither did his daughter, Fran. We miss her, too. She was such a permanent fixture around her daddy.
April 19, 2010: Surprise! Hope shows up with new beau!
We hadn't visited the park for a couple of weeks so when a pair of geese ran up to us with a joyous clamor, we were surprised and overjoyed to see that one of them was Hope. Hope took grain from my hand in her usual quiet, dignified manner. It was as if nothing had changed. We had last seen her in May 2009 when she had showed up at the park with Frank, after a failed nesting attempt. Then, they had flown off to parts unknown and when Frank returned in June, he brought with him Mrs. Frank and Hope vanished from the scene. We wondered where Hope had gone to and how our little girl was doing so it was absolutely a gorgeous surprise to see her back healthy and with a new beau, too. We named her new man, Bob.
Both of them flew off to molt. Hope showed up at the park alone in September. About a week later, she was with Bob. Then, Duce and Donna returned from pond hopping and Hope hung out with them sometimes and at other times, she was with Bob. That`s how it went until they all migrated south November 13.
OCTOBER & NOVEMBER 2013
Since the fall of 2010, we have not visited the park much as Earl has been very ill. In the fall of 2011, I fed Duce and Donna, Hansel and Gretel along with their large flock of about 30 plus geese till they headed south in November.
Last fall, our old friend, Duce did not return. Since we had not visited the park in spring, we did not know if he returned in the spring. We miss him very much. He was such a gentle, loving giant. He was devoted to his mate and we had been his friend since 2004. We hope he is still out there enjoying the wild life and we hope he will return one day. We miss Frank very much, too. And our other good friend, Chester.
I saw a flock of geese at the field a few days ago and decided to feed them to see if any of my old friends were among them. To my great delight, Mrs. Frank was there with a new mate and two goslings.
Mrs Frank with her new mate
Mrs. Frank was never as personable as Frank and Duce. She did feed from my hand some years ago but only after knowing me for a long time. Since I have not been present in her life the last few years, she does not recognize me. I hope that some of our other old friends will turn up to feed with this flock. I will feed them until they head south.