THE GEESE OF BEAVER BOG (217 pp., Harper Collins, 2004)

From the book jacket: "When award-winning writer and biologist Bernd Heinrich became the unwitting—but doting—foster parent of an adorable gosling named Peep, he was drawn into her world. And so, with a scientist's training and a nature lover's boundless enthusiasm, he set out to understand the travails and triumphs of the Canada geese living in the beaver bog adjacent to his home. In The Geese of Beaver Bog, Heinrich takes his readers through mud, icy waters, and overgrown sedge hummocks to unravel the mysteries behind heated battles, suspicious nest raids, jealous outbursts, and more. With deft insight and infectious good humor, he sheds light on how geese live and why they behave as they do. Far from staid or predictable, the lives of geese are packed with adventure and full of surprises. Illustrated throughout with Heinrich's trademark sketches and featuring beautiful four-color photographs, The Geese of Beaver Bog is part love story, part science experiment, and wholly delightful."

REVIEWS (4.5 of 5 stars on Amazon): "Heinrich's lyric writing and attentive observations make the goose world come alive...[A] pure joy."—Los Angeles Times


While in Vermont, I lived adjacent to a large beaver-created pond and a closely-associated wetland. There were no geese there in the early 1980s, but it was a haven for red-winged blackbirds and grackles. They were fun to watch, especially in spring-time. Then one spring, a pair of Canada geese showed up. I was mesmerized by them, especially after finding them making a nest on a sedge tussock. Year after year they came back before the ice had melted, and eventually nested on top of a beaver lodge. The longer I knew the geese, the more I could recognize as individuals by their often unique white face patches. The resident pair fought off all other geese that came near to the bog. This behavior seemed extraordinary for me, because the pond and the bog were huge. Why could they not share it? And why did the pair always disappear with the young within a day or two after the eggs hatched? Why were there many pairs with many young at another, nearby pond? Interesting things were happening, of which I had no clue.

This then started my systematic watching. The geese turned out to be highly emotional, and often endearing birds. Several became almost pets which travelled regularly between their bog and our lawn. Certain individuals tolerated me at their nests, to the point that they tolerated intimacies such as me reaching under their belly to take eggs, examine them, and put them back. I became fond of them and learned much from their social dealings, and wanted, no needed, to preserve what had become an adventure getting to know and learn from them.