You Can Run, but Can’t Hide from the Cackling Goose
Species: Cackling Goose, or Branta hutchinsii
Family: Anatidae (waterfowl, i.e. ducks, geese, and swans)
Star sign: Leo
Ideal Date: Shitting on your lawn.
It will happen sometime soon on a cold and cloudy day. You will be all alone, trying to slog through your work, and you will hear it: the cacophony of a thousand screaming geese rising through the air like demon song, piercing your eardrums with a discordant fervor that you had all but washed from your memory. And you will know that the Cackling Geese have returned.
There’s nothing you can do to escape them. As the Cackling Geese encroach upon our territory, they laugh at our misery with their high-pitched honks and shit on everything. They station themselves in swarming masses on the fields of Reed College as if they’re the ones paying sixty thousand dollars a year to be here, hordes upon hordes of what might as well be miniature Canada Geese complete with beady black eyes and spined tongues. In fact, up until 2004, the Cackling Goose was a subspecies of the Canada Goose characterized by its smaller size. Now that it’s recognized as its own species it has subspecies of its own, and one of them — the “minima” Cackling Goose — is the smallest true goose in the world. Whoever decided to put all that Goose Violence into such a tiny package was blinded by hubris and horror movie stupidity, and now the strength of this fowl beast is far too great to be stopped.
If you want someone to blame for the campus’ tormentors, blame science. In the 1970s, the population of Cackling Geese was recorded at an all-time low of only about a hundred thousand individuals. In response to this news, instead of celebrating the end of the nightmare, so-called “conservationists” took drastic action to save the horrible honkers from endangerment. In what is perhaps one of the greatest American conservation success stories, today their population has skyrocketed to more than 3.5 million geese in North America. Those fools! What were they thinking? They had brought the menace to its knees, but now after all their hard work, the geese gain in numbers, grow in their dark power, and soon will be able to overwhelm us completely. We may never escape the horrors of the Cackling Goose.
You probably know what a Canada Goose looks like already — tan body, white stomach, black legs and neck with a white patch on the face — and Cacklers look basically identical except that they’re noticeably smaller, with shorter necks and much stubbier beaks. Be careful though, because Cackling and Canada Geese like to travel in mixed packs, probably just because they want to make the lives of innocent birders more difficult. If, for some God-forsaken reason, you want to see a Cackling Goose, I have good news: their reign of terror has barely begun, and it won’t be ending any time soon. Most of the western U.S. is nothing but a migratory highway to these ghoulies, but they winter in the urban centers of the Pacific Northwest. So no, you’re not imagining it. The Cackling Goose hates us, specifically. Maybe it thinks Portlanders are just fun to haunt.