Golden geese

Déłí occupying golf course considered sacred in Diné culture

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Navajo Times | Krista Allen
A group of Canada geese graze on the Lake Powell National Golf Course on Jan. 5 in Page, Arizona. They are now considered “part of the community.”

They are always on the lookout, John R. Spence said about the ubiquitous Canada geese that occupy the Lake Powell National Golf Course every winter.

“They always have a couple of birds out there watching for the rest of the flock, to see if there’s danger,” explained Spence, senior scientist in the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. “And they consider humans a danger.”

The 600 or so big, black-necked Canada geese with their signature white chinstrap mark are a familiar sight in Lake Powell Country. This is a small flock as opposed to millions that migrate south each year, filling the sky with impressive and aerodynamic V-formations.

“And they come back every year because they like the area,” Spence said. “Then they head south for the winter because they can’t survive the snow on the ground.”

Though these grassland-adapted birds can survive in very cold conditions, they cannot eat if there is snow on the ground.

“There are places – golf courses and parks – where they’ve become so used to people that you can walk up to them,” Spence said. “But they’re wild animals and they won’t let you touch them.”

The Canada geese are one of the best-known birds in North America. They are found in every contiguous U.S. state and Canadian province at one time of the year or another.

Many Canada geese have altered their migrations, Spence said. And some are not going as far south in the winter as they used to.

This northward range shift has been attributed to changes in farm practices that make waste grain more available in fall and in winter, according to Cornell University’s Lab of Ornithology.

Categories: Culture

About Author

Krista Allen

Krista Allen is the Western Agency Bureau reporter for the Navajo Times. She covers the western half of the Navajo Nation, including Page, Tuba City, Kaibeto, Cameron, Tonalea and Shonto. She can be reached at kallen@navajotimes.com.