Grease and the Wicked White Goose (Wicked for short) have been living harmoniously now for several months and I have been happily completing pen duties with no incidence until today, when Wicked slowly circled me with her head down and finally attacked. I had to grab her head to dislodge her from my pants, which was luckily all she had a hold of. Grease was backing her up with noisy honks, but he was keeping his distance and almost looked apologetic, really if a goose can have a facial expression. Truly, Grease looks hen pecked.
After dislodging Wicked, I tossed her out range and she charged back, a full-on attack. I repeated my toss, this time holding her for a few moments first and staring at her intensely. Grease honked; I imagined him encouraging her to calm down, which is exactly what she did. When she stopped wiggling around, I again tossed her, and this time she reluctantly stayed back preening.
I was just about done with my duties, and deciding not to push it, I exited the pen, giving Grease an extra handful of meal worms and cautiously watching Wicked.
On my way home I wondered why Wicked was suddenly so wicked and I also wondered about my discipline method. A Google search led me to Backyard Chickens.com, where the very subject of goose discipline was the topic of a discussion board. Most who had had experience with keeping geese seemed to agree that humiliating the goose by picking it up in front of its peer until it calmed down was a good plan of action. A couple comments included tipping it upside down, which I might try next time. Surprisingly, whereas I thought my penetrating eye contact was particularly effective, no one offered that as a suggestion.
As to why she was so mean in the first place, the answer is mating season. Turns out goose mating season is February to early April. I had no idea there was a “season”! Up to this time we have been harvesting the eggs, but now I am considering letting Wicked keep her eggs for a while. Let’s see if Grease is man enough to manage a gaggle of his own.
Mating season or not, geese are notorious for being territorial. A quick YouTube search of "mean goose" will turn up dozens of videos such as this wedding video.