Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

June 5, 2013

ROOT: Philbert the Lockport goose

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — I had someone tell me a true story of how inconsiderate municipalities can be in their search for visual perfection. This is not a story about Lockport, initially. I am hoping that we in Lockport can get beyond this kind of inhumane behavior and maybe strive for something a little bit more cooperative.

As man continues to expand his habitat, he tends to interfere with the habitats of others. This is just another reason why feeding the seagulls at the former Mall site is not only disgusting, it is also inhumane. Whoever is feeding those gulls is setting those birds up for a relocation at best, and an extermination at worst. I hope that you can sleep well knowing that you just completely ruined the lives of hundreds of living creatures just to make your point, whoever you are.

I am no fan of the seagulls, but I am also no fan of inhumane treatment of any animal. Whoever is bringing in those gulls is inhumane and should be punished as such.

Anyway, the birds of the sky are forced to find refuge wherever they can as more and more buildings are put in the place of their former homes. I have a bird family that tries to nest under the awning over my house. If it wasn’t right next to my front door, I would let them stay. But I am forced to ask the birds to relocate every year.

The trees that line our streets seem like a natural place for birds to put their nests. That is the way it should be. Even birds know when a tree is dying and they will usually move to a better tree. That is when the municipality usually removes the tree. However, in this story, a perfectly healthy tree was destroyed by a municipality for what appears to be no reason. Aside from a shady spot on the sidewalk, there were other casualties.

There was a nest in that tree with young birds that had recently hatched. The parents of those birds had gone off to find food for their young ones. When the parents returned, they found municipal workers finishing up the final stages of sending their home through the tree grinder. The nest, and the young ones, were gone.

The parent birds wandered the street, literally, looking for their tree and their children. One of the parents flew around the area with food in its mouth to give to their young ones. But the young ones were gone and for no real reason. The tree was healthy and it wasn’t bothering anyone. Now the tree is gone and two bird parents have to come to grips with starting over.

On the flip side, places like the Crossroads in Amherst insist that all of the tenants of the industrial park be mindful of the geese that live in the area. I have seen traffic stopped for 5 minutes on both sides of the road as a family of geese slowly makes its way across the road with the Mama Goose honking away at her children.

Why do geese honk? Scientists are not exactly sure, but they think that geese honk to aid in navigation when they are flying and to encourage each other. That would explain why the Mama Goose was honking at her kids as they crossed the road in front of all of that traffic.

All of that brings us to Philbert the Lockport Goose. A few weeks ago, my wife and I watched two geese crossing Transit down by Main Street. As with Crossroads, all of the traffic stopped to let these two geese go by. But last week, there was only one goose crossing Transit. So I named him Philbert.

When we saw Philbert crossing Transit last week, he was alone and he was honking up a storm. The traffic stopped to let Philbert cross and he just kept on honking. I couldn’t help but wonder what he was honking at. Was he looking for his companion? Was he trying to encourage himself to keep going after losing his companion?

We obviously have moved so far out that we invaded Philbert’s territory. Now he wanders our downtown area honking to himself. I say that we adopt him. I say that if you see Philbert sleeping in your backyard, just leave him be. If you see kids chasing Philbert, stop them and tell them to leave Philbert alone. If you have a few bites of your sandwich left and you see Philbert, let him finish it for you.

It is time that we stopped living on this planet like we own it. It is too late for the seagulls at the Mall site and the parent birds wandering the street looking for their children. But I don’t think it is too late for Philbert. Let’s make him feel at home and do what we can to try and stop the arrogance of man from taking yet another innocent life.

George N Root III is a Lockport resident and, you guessed it, an animal lover. His column appears every Wednesday for all species to enjoy. He can be reached at georgeroot@verizon.net, but don't send donations for Philbert. Just pay it forward and make Philbert feel at home.