Cover image for The geese of Beaver Bog
The geese of Beaver Bog
Heinrich, Bernd, 1940-
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : ECCO, [2004]

Physical Description:
xiv, 217 pages ; 24 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
QL696.A52 H439 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



In the summer of 1998, award-winning writer and biologist Bernd Heinrich found himself the unwitting -- but doting -- foster parent of an adorable gosling named Peep. Good-natured, spirited Peep drew Heinrich into her world -- one he found to be filled with as much color and drama as that of her human counterparts.

And so, with a scientist's training and a nature lover's boundless curiosity and enthusiasm, Heinrich set out to observe and understand the travails and triumphs of the Canada geese, or honkers, living in the beaver bog adjacent to his rural Vermont home. His presence in the bog, at all hours, in all weather, became as commonplace as that of the local beavers and birds. The resident geese learned that Heinrich could be trusted, enabling him to watch and record their daily routines from up close.

Heated battles over territory, mysterious nest raids, jealousy over a lover's inattention, all are recounted here in an engaging, anecdotal narrative that sheds light on how geese live and why they behave as they do. Far from staid or predictable, the lives of geese are packed with adventure and full of surprises.

In The Geese of Beaver Bog, Heinrich takes his readers through mud, icy waters, and overgrown sedge hummocks into a seemingly impenetrable world. He does so with deft insight, respectful modesty, and infectious good humor. Illustrated throughout with Heinrich's trademark sketches and featuring beautiful four-color photographs, The Geese of Beaver Bog is part love story, part science experiment, and wholly delightful.

Author Notes

Bernd Heinrich is the author of numerous books, including the best-selling Winter World, the award-winning Mind of the Raven, and Bumblebee Economics, which was nominated for the National Book Award. A professor of biology at the University of Vermont, Heinrich divides his time between Vermont and the forests of western Maine

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Heinrich, naturalist and author of Winter World 0 (2003) and Mind of the Raven0 (1999), raised a baby Canada goose to adulthood, at which point she flew south with her compatriots. Two years later, she returned with a mate in tow and set up housekeeping on a beaver pond near the author's house. The trust that Peep, Heinrich's goose, showed for the author allowed him to intimately observe the details of the pair's lives. The author describes battles over real estate, mate swapping, and the tender attentions of parents to new goslings. The other denizens of the marsh also get their due, as Heinrich discovers the nests of song sparrows, red-winged blackbirds, and rose-breasted grosbeaks. Underlying the engaging, personal nature of the narrative is Heinrich's scientific background, and the reader learns quite a bit about marsh biology and goose behavior between the lines. Sprinkled throughout are the author's lively sketches of the geese. --Nancy Bent Copyright 2004 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

Arguably today's finest naturalist author, Heinrich follows up his magnificent Winter World (2003) with a smaller-scale but delightful narrative of his recent observations on the Canadian geese that have colonized the beaver bog near his Vermont home. The story begins and ends with Peep, a goose who hatched from an egg on Heinrich's lawn and adopted Heinrich's family as her own. In time Peep mates with a gander, Pop, only to see all her eggs but one destroyed by an unknown predator Heinrich suspects other geese and then her sole gosling die, as she and Pop share the bog with another goose couple whom Heinrich calls Jane and Jack. The next year, Pop has coupled with Jane, while Peep, after some struggle, takes up with Jack, contradicting the common wisdom that geese pair off for years, just one of many anomalous behaviors that Heinrich observes and tries to make sense of. Other geese come and go, as Heinrich rushes from his house to the bog, often before dawn, scrupulously studying this incident or that, always tying in what he sees with scientific knowledge, relying particularly on Konrad Lorenz's groundbreaking work. The story can flag at times (these are geese, after all, not higher primates), but is always re-energized by Heinrich's enthusiasm. Other animals figure in as well other bird species, beavers, mammalian predators and even the author's own family as the seasons turn and the geese grow, in Heinrich's talented hands, into memorable characters. Backed by several useful appendixes and brightened not only by Heinrich's careful drawings but by color photos (not seen by PW), this is another worthy missive from our latter-day Thoreau. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Although he is an accomplished biologist, Heinrich (Univ. of Vermont) has not written a hard science book. Instead, he offers observations of Canadian geese that have nested in a beaver bog on his Maine property for several years, recalling his award-winning Mind of the Raven. Via Peep, a goose born on the author's lawn, we learn about the species' breeding, nesting, and defense of their territory each spring, along with unusual behaviors that Heinrich not only illustrates but ultimately tries to explain. In addition, he describes the behavior of the many other birds, mammals, amphibians, and insects that share the pond. The text is taken largely from a diary that Heinrich kept in the late 1990s, and the dated entries and use of present tense support his style. This story of waterfowl and their young clearly fascinates the energetic Heinrich and would appeal to bird watchers and other amateur naturalists. Recommended for popular collections.-Alvin Hutchinson, Smithsonian Inst. Libs., Washington, DC (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



The Geese of Beaver Bog Chapter One It's a Goose The speed limit on the highway a mile from my home in Vermont is 45 miles an hour, and Peep was pushing it. She was winging along a foot or two behind and just to the left of the cab of my Toyota pickup truck. Another truck roared by from the other direction but she kept her place. She didn't miss a wing-beat. You might think she knew all about flying, road vehicles, and the right-of-way convention when barreling down the highway. Fact is, this is was her maiden flight. I was as surprised to find her beside me, as I suspect the truck driver was. I had originally planned to drive to town, but seeing her now I reconsidered. I slowed, turned around, and headed back toward our dirt road to lead her home. Site was soon again with me. I then cranked up to 50 miles an hour on the last level stretch on the approach to the turnoff to our road, to see what she could do. She started to lag a bit and I knew she was pushing, approaching her limits, because her bill opened and as I glanced sideways I saw her pink tounge exposed while she panted from exertion and overheating. She didn't turn the corner too well. Tongue still out and chest heaving, she landed in a ditch and waddled out onto the dirt road. I stopped to see if she was all right. After giving her a couple of minutes to catch her breath, I got back into the truck ... The Geese of Beaver Bog . Copyright © by Bernd Heinrich. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold. Excerpted from The Geese of Beaver Bog by Bernd Heinrich All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Table of Contents

Introductionp. xi
1 It's a Goosep. 1
2 Settling Inp. 19
3 At the Nestp. 25
4 Nesting Travailsp. 37
5 Spring Againp. 55
6 Mate Switchp. 65
7 One Month at a Nestp. 71
8 Geese Hatchingp. 87
9 To Greener Pasturesp. 101
10 A Summer Night Concert: Sounds and Sightsp. 109
11 Fall Visitorsp. 113
12 Spring Sorting-Outp. 121
13 Jane and Harryp. 131
14 Getting Togetherp. 141
15 The Sedge Pairp. 147
16 Adoption, Parenting, and Desertionp. 159
17 A Feather Droppedp. 173
About the Appendicesp. 179
Appendix 1 Chronologies at Two Pondsp. 181
Appendix 2 Lorenz's Geesep. 183
Appendix 3 Canada Goose Populationsp. 193
Appendix 4 Birds Seen at and around the Beaver Bogp. 203
Selected Referencesp. 207
Indexp. 215