This Best of Bogue column originally was published Nov. 6, 2008.
Dear Gary: This past summer I had an unusual close encounter with a large Canada goose.
My husband and I were walking down a dirt road behind our cabin on Lake Superior in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Up ahead of us we saw a goose flying at treetop level winging its way toward the lake about 100 feet away.
Suddenly the goose clipped the topmost branches and immediately began to plummet in a downward arc directly toward me. The goose was desperately flapping its wings trying to stabilize itself and was wobbling from side to side. This all happened so fast and I was doing my "get out of the way of the goose" dance.
He zigged, I zagged, and we kept this up until he landed with a big thud right at my feet. If I had taken just one more step the goose would have scored a direct hit and knocked me right over.
I stood there like a deer in the headlights trying to process what had happened. The goose picked itself right up and with as much dignity as it could muster stomped off through the woods toward the lake, honking noisily all the way.
Gary, what could have caused that goose to just fly into the tree like that? Maybe he was ill, a little distracted, or had a faulty GPS? I've been wondering about that all this time. He was a full-size adult so it wasn't a case of a young one's maiden flight.
DEAR BARBARA: Believe it or not, wild creatures aren't perfect. Sometimes they stumble, slip, fall, bump and crash into things just like us awkward humans.
I once saw a deer slip and fall as it was dashing across the road in front of my car. She picked herself up and kept running.
About 20 years ago, a mountain lion was found lying at the bottom of a hill next to a road in the Big Sur area just past Carmel. It had a big hole in its breast and game wardens were pretty sure someone illegally shot the big cat. However, after investigating the scene, they discovered a sharp pointy branch sticking out from a manzanita bush, covered with blood.
The lion apparently impaled itself on the branch while chasing a deer, slipped off and rolled down the hill.
DEAR GARY: I was serenaded last night to the sound of two owls in the tall pine trees next to my house -- in the fox squirrel tree.
Can you help identify them? Per my bird guide I think they may be great horned owls. One called "who who who, whoo whoo whoo" and another answered nearby with a higher pitched call in a similar six to seven hoot melody.
Are they mating? I heard this same tonal melody once before last winter, I think for about a week. They must be passing through because I don't usually hear them.
How do I make them stay, besides offering my tasty squirrel family?
DEAR MARLENE: Great horned owls it is. This is breeding season for them and they're hooting up a storm to attract mates.
Sounds like there's a match being made in your yard.
Whether they stay or not is up to them. They may be passing through, or one might have a nearby nest hole staked out. They could even be living near you right now and you don't know about it because you're asleep when they're out and about.
Gary Bogue has retired after 42 years of writing this column. If you have animal-related questions, contact Joan Morris at firstname.lastname@example.org; or P.O. Box 8099, Walnut Creek, CA 94596.