Triumphgeshrei smackdown

11 04 2007


I have often found sublime pleasure in watching the most common birds to be found; it is through the actions of these typically drab natives that I have seen the majority of interesting behavioral tidbits. But without getting into the relative merits of chickadees versus nuthatches at the bird feeder, I would like to turn my focus to a ubiquitous bird that is usually overlooked, sometimes despised, and often actively persecuted: the Canada Goose.

Nothing says Spring like geese charging from one end of a pond to another, hell-bent on goosing another goose that happened to stray a bit too near. The air, cacophonous with honks, is alive despite the freezing temperatures that have returned to Ithaca, and the only birds that are still acting like it’s Spring are the geese. The best part of observing these battles is that there is a clear outcome at the end of a chase: one pair wins, and an interloper loses. In fact, the winning pair often gloats following a successful defense, performing what is scientifically referred to as a “Triumphgeshrei” or Triumph Ceremony (named by uber-behaviorist Konrad Lorenz). In this display, the victorious geese wave their necks and honk loudly at one another. It’s sort of like Hulk Hogan climbing up onto the ropes and beckoning to the crowds for cheers by ostentatiously cupping his hand to his ear. This display is also used as a greeting following a long separation (e.g. sleeping or foraging separately).

The Birds of North America, a reference resource for the species of birds that live in North America, describe Canada Geese as ruling by “tyranny“, which I find especially endearing. To watch a goose purposefully approach another goose from tens of meters away, its head flipping from side-to-side, flashing those white patches, is to know the singular fury of a goose. And there’s rarely something more entertaining (and indicative of Spring’s presence) than the appearance of pairs of belligerent geese on ponds that once held flocks of tens to hundreds…I guess we’ll have to chalk it up to the hormones.

CAGO pair




13 responses

12 04 2007

Konrad Lorenz and Hulk Hogan in the same post … now that’s culture. Nice going nuthatch…

15 04 2007

Triumphgeshrei has to be the coolest word I’ve learned since I first encountered zugunruhe! Thanks!

15 04 2007
Do You Know What a Triumphgeshrei is?

[…] out from The Contemplative Nuthatch. Cool […]

15 04 2007

In addition to the waving of necks and honking I’ve often observed the victorious geese rapidly bathing…do you know if this is part of triumphgeshri for them or are they just trying to cool down?

15 04 2007
triticale - the wheat / rye guy

Word For The Day

TriumphgeshreiFound, courtesy of the host of this week’s Recipe Carnival, in a post which references both Konrad Lorenz and Hulk Hogan….

30 03 2008
The many faces of Sapsucker Woods’ pond… « the contemplative nuthatch

[…] the beauty of the last few months. Currently Sapsucker Woods pond is crisscrossed with the paths of geese fighting and celebrating their triumphs, a morass of rotten ice and brown murk. Soon the honking of the geese will give way to the spring […]

21 05 2008
Of geese and chickadees… « the contemplative nuthatch

[…] open then engaging in protracted battles that often result in a loss of feathers for the losers and ceremonial posturing for the winners.  This territoriality is important in securing the resources that are needed for a successful […]

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25 02 2012

Thanks for the description about the ‘triumphgeshrei’. I was watching Canada Geese on my local patch here in London and wanted some information about their behaviour.

25 02 2012
triumphgeshrei at the local patch « north8birder

[…] for providing helpful information on this phenomenon; California Waterfowl Association and the Contemplative Nuthatch blog. Like this:LikeBe the first to like this post. […]

4 12 2012

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