Fire and Nice.

NICE. We are enjoying an incredible spring in the Kansas City area. Warm days and plenty of rain brought early blossoms and high pollen counts. We’ll take it. Trees are fully leafed out, lilac, peonies and violets are blooming in backyards across the metro. And there are wildlife babies.

Once or twice a week, my dog Angel and I head for a city park for early morning walks. This week we discovered the goslings have hatched and the small lakes in our urban landscape have become day care pools for little fuzz balls learning to swim and forage. I’ve always noticed them, but never paid much attention to their parents. If you haven’t already watched the video above, now would be a good time to take a look at what I have described as the “Gosling Dance.”

So what’s with all the neck pumping and head shaking in the adults? Well, according to one research study of Canada Geese, it is (1) A threat warning that another bird family is swimming their way and it helps synchronize their next move. (2) It gets the attention of the baby birds, “facilitates family cohesion” and helps them avoid conflict with another bird family. (3) And finally, it’s a quiet, inconspicuous way to signal it’s time to move away from predators. Who knew? These folks.

FIRE. Last year at this time, I was working on a documentary on Kansas City’s Symphony in the Flint Hills. I was focused on cattle and landscape maintenance in the wide open spaces. The really pristine pieces of prairie that are left are here today because of fire. From the ashes of the annual spring burning sprouts some of the most nutrient rich grass in the world. Cattle literally gain pounds a day feeding in these fields. The burn also keeps the land from become wooded. It’s not popular with a lot of people, particularly those who live downwind. For those who believe in keeping a small part of the prairie just as it was when the pioneers crossed, it’s the smell of spring. The owners of the Clover Cliff Ranch in Elmdale, Kansas kindly allowed me and former KSHB photographer Wayne Gassmann to shoot their night time burn.




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