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White geese spotted near Yacht Club, on nearby lawns

By: K. Michelle Moran | Grosse Pointe Times | Published April 6, 2011

 The white geese seen in recent weeks near the Grosse Pointe Yacht Club and on a couple of nearby lawns are actually domestic geese, not a wild breed. They are most likely Embden geese, given their physical characteristics, experts say.

The white geese seen in recent weeks near the Grosse Pointe Yacht Club and on a couple of nearby lawns are actually domestic geese, not a wild breed. They are most likely Embden geese, given their physical characteristics, experts say.

Photo by K. Michelle Moran

GROSSE POINTE SHORES — It turns out the mysterious white birds near the Grosse Pointe Yacht Club that have left local residents all aflutter aren’t so mysterious after all.

The flock of about seven birds are domestic geese — in other words, the kind most commonly found on farms. Specifically, they’re Embden geese, said to be perhaps the most common breed of domestic geese in North America, according to some sources.

Although their eyes are rimmed red, upon closer inspection, the birds’ eyes themselves are deep blue, one of the hallmarks of Embden geese, along with all white feathers and orange beaks, legs and feet.

In recent weeks, the birds have been seen regularly munching grass next to the Grosse Pointe Yacht Club or on the front lawns of homes directly across Lake Shore Road. It’s not unusual for the birds to temporarily halt traffic as they waddle from one side of the busy thoroughfare to the other, following each other like a group of kids on a school field trip.

Tom Krolczyk, a Shores administrator, said the city has been fielding multiple calls about the birds, one of which was spotted in the Osius Park harbor last week. The Department of Public Works has also gotten calls about the birds, he said.

So has the Public Safety Department, confirmed officer Tony Spina. Spina said the geese seem to be spending a good deal of time in a marshy patch of accretion next to the Yacht Club.

Because they’re not a native wild species, no one knows how they got here, but some theorize that the geese either escaped from a farm or were dropped off by someone who could no longer care for them. The Pointes don’t allow people to keep farm animals as pets, so the birds presumably came from some distance away.

Officer Ron Coste said the geese have been in the area for roughly a month and a half. A woman who recognized them as domestic geese attempted to trap and relocate them, he said, but she was unable to lure the birds into a carrier stocked with food pellets.

Coste said the geese appear to be healthy and eating, a fact confirmed by Bill Rapai, president of Grosse Pointe Audubon.

“They seem to be doing a very good job of (surviving in the wild),” Rapai said.

Although no one seems to have seen the birds in the air, he said they can fly. Like other geese, they’re also good swimmers.

If the birds stick around, residents might see fuzzy goslings waddling along the shore in the coming weeks. This is the time of year geese usually breed, Rapai said, noting that Canada geese are just partnering now and will probably be on their nests within the next week or two. Rapai said he wasn’t sure if these geese might interbreed with the Canada geese found up and down the Lake St. Clair shoreline, but it isn’t out of the question, given that there are many examples of crossbreeding among other species of geese. As of press time, though, the Embden geese appeared to be sticking close to members of their own flock.

As cute as they are, Rapai said, people should resist the urge to feed the geese. Besides the fact that human food, such as bread and potato chips, don’t provide proper nutrition, he said the birds need to remain wary of humans.

“You want them to maintain a healthy fear of humans for their own sake,” Rapai said.