Tuesday, January 13, 2015

just visiting Pellissippi

Snow Goose (Chen caerulescens) with Canada goose (Branta canadensis). Photo by Jason Dykes

Pellissippi State Community College has had its share of attention the past two months. Last week it was President Obama and Vice President Biden and his education-minded wife Jill. That's a big deal for the Hardin Valley campus.

In December, the visitors were avian. Two geese, or two northerners, spent some time at the campus pond and local environs. First, there appeared a lone snow goose that spent a short amount of time hanging out with the resident gaggle of Canada geese. The snowy white birds nest so far north they probably know where Santa's workshop is located. They do make forays into the US in the winter but not that often to Tennessee.

After that it was a lone greater white-fronted goose hanging out with the Canadas. They are somewhat rare here as well being that they breed in the tundra from Nunavut to Siberia, across Russia, and in Greenland and spend their winters primarily in Central America and along the west coast.  

I went twice, but saw neither. I didn't get to see the president or vice president or Jill Biden either, so I can't check that off my life list. Bummer. I did see President Nixon once but that was a long time ago, pre-Watergate and pre-life list and pre-notion-of-such.  

So is it geese or gooses? According to my online dictionary: goose, noun, plural geese for 1, 2, 4, 8; or gooses for 5—7. So six geese are called gooses? Isn't that the oddest thing? Is it real? Or is some bored Internet lexicographer messing with us?
Jason Dykes saw both special geese and sent me photos to document it. The top photo of the snow goose has two total geese, the top one below has three total geese. So they are not gooses. But collectively they show five geese, so then they are gooses? Go figure.

For fans of binomials, the bird family Anatidae contains the tribe Anserini. There are three genera in that tribe: Anser, Branta and Chen. All three are represented in these photos.  

Thanks, Jason! 

Greater white-fronted goose (Anser albifrons) in foreground with Canada geese. Photo by Jason Dykes.

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