Birds are smart animals who deserve our respect. Some kids who don’t know any better chase pigeons, ducks, or geese at the park. But birds in nature are sensitive, and if we use our empathy and think about how we’d feel if someone started chasing us for no reason, we can see that this isn’t a nice thing to do! It would be really scary, wouldn’t it? One of the ways we can be a friend to birds is by trying not to scare them.
Many birds, like pigeons, have great memories. Pigeons are devoted to their families—they mate for life and raise their young together. And they are really good at navigating. They use their own magnetic compasses but actually follow roads more often! They can fly up to 50 miles per hour and can travel up to 600 miles in a day. They also have excellent hearing and vision.
Geese mate for life and are protective of their partners and babies. They’re so loyal, too, that they’ll often refuse to leave the side of a sick or hurt mate or chick, even if their flock is about to fly south for the winter. Geese mourn if their partner dies—and some spend the rest of their lives without a mate, refusing to choose a new one.
When geese families come together to make a group, it’s called a gaggle. They have strength in numbers and look out for each other. Geese use as many as 13 different calls, such as honking, to give warnings, say hello, and express emotions. They may fly thousands of miles in a “V” shape during migration. The flock members rotate from the front to the back of the V when they get tired, and those in the rear honk their encouragement to the leaders—go, team!
Ducks feel most at home when they’re with their group. And speaking of home, ducks always make sure their nests are clean. They also enjoy preening their feathers. Like geese, ducks are excellent travelers, and they fly hundreds of miles each year (as fast as 60 miles per hour!) during migration.
Ducks are great talkers, and scientists have found that they even have regional accents—city ducks have more of a “shouting” quack so that other birds can hear them above the hustle and bustle, while country ducks have softer voices. It seems like they have a lot in common with the humans they live near. 😊
Never eat birds. Ducks, geese, turkeys, and chickens don’t belong on your dining room table or in your sandwich! They’re sensitive animals who deserve just as much respect as your family’s dog. Why? Because they have thoughts, feelings, and families and they can feel pain and suffer, too—just like dogs, cats, and humans.
Don’t chase pigeons or feed birds at the park. Bread can make ducks and geese sick and can cause deformities like “angel wing,” which can kill them. If you see someone feeding ducks and geese bread, let them know that it’s really bad for birds and that uneaten bread can pollute the water.
Tell everyone you know that birds are smart and social, and remind them not to chase birds in nature or feed them bread. If you see a nest, don’t touch it! And if you see an injured or orphaned bird, ask a grownup to call the nearest wildlife rehabilitator.