Monday, September 26, 2016

Episode 335 (9-26-16): Canada Geese in Sound and Original Music

CLICK HERE to listen to episode audio (3:58)

Transcript of audio, notes on the audio, images, and additional information follow below.

All Web addresses mentioned were functional as of 9-23-16


From the Cumberland Gap to the Atlantic Ocean, this is Virginia Water Radio for the week of September 26, 2016.

MUSIC – ~ 7 sec

This week, we feature music and mystery sounds, about a creature whose calls and migratory flights are well-known signs of seasonal change.  Have a listen for about 25 seconds, and see if you can guess this long-necked creature.

MUSIC -- ~ 10 sec

SOUNDS - ~ 13 sec

If you guessed geese, you’re right!  You heard the sounds of the Canada Goose, along with “Geese Piece,” music composed especially for this episode by Torrin Hallett, a student at Oberlin College and Conservatory in Oberlin, Ohio.  The Canada Goose is found particularly near shallow water bodies with good supplies of plant food.  It’s the most widespread of seven goose species that breed in North America, six of which occur at least occasionally in Virginia.  Within the Canada Goose species, scientists recognize at least 10 subspecies, varying in size, color, and breeding location.  As the name implies, many Canada Geese migrate to Canada, or the Arctic, for summer breeding, flying in characteristic V-shaped flocks that, for some people, symbolize seasonal turning points.  For example, in the book Life in the Chesapeake, authors Alice and Robert Lippson remark that “the early fall arrival of the Canada goose...heralds the oncoming winter like no other species in the Bay.”

From its traditional northern breeding areas, however, Canada Goose populations have spread south, with nesting populations now in all 48 continental states.  These populations, including those in Virginia, take advantage of food and water in agricultural areas and increasingly in city parks and ponds, where large numbers of resident geese can cause problems for human visitors, aquatic habitats, and smaller waterfowl.  High above, though, in fall and spring, this big bird’s flying formations and distant honking still alert humans to change in the air.

Thanks to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for this week’s sounds, and to Torrin Hallett for this week’s music.  We close with a few more seconds of “Geese Piece.”

MUSIC - ~ 19 sec


For more Virginia water sounds, music, and information, visit us online at, or call us at (540) 231-5463.  Virginia Water Radio is produced by the Virginia Water Resources Research Center, part of Virginia Tech’s College of Natural Resources and Environment.  Thanks to Stewart Scales for his banjo version of Cripple Creek to open and close the show.   In Blacksburg, I’m Alan Raflo, thanking you for listening, and wishing you health, wisdom, and good water.


“Geese Piece” is copyright 2016 by Torrin Hallett, used with permission.  Many thanks to Torrin, a fourth-year horn performance, music composition and math major at Oberlin College and Conservatory in Oberlin, Ohio, for composing the piece especially for Virginia Water Radio.”  More information about Torrin is available at his Web site,

The sounds of Canada Geese were taken from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife National Digital Library, (for sound clips specifically, see

Canada Geese at Morven Park in Leesburg, Va. (Loudoun County), March 22, 2008.

 Canada Goose at Heritage Park in Blacksburg, Va. (Montgomery County), March 31, 2007.

  Canada Geese flying above Heritage Park in Blacksburg, Va., (Montgomery County), January 6, 2012.


According to the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) “Fish and Wildlife Information Service,” online at, the following geese species and subspecies occur in Virginia, at least occasionally. The name of each species is hyperlinked to additional information from VDGIF. Scientific names are in parentheses.

Brant (Branta bernicla brota)
Canada Goose (Branta canadensis)
Barnacle Goose (Branta leucopsis)
Greater White-footed Goose (Anser albifrons flavirostris)
Ross' Goose (Chen rossii)
Snow Goose (Chen caerulescens)
Lesser Snow Goose (Chen caerulescens caerulescens)


Used in Audio

Cornell University Lab of Ornithology, “All About Birds,” online at

Cornell University Lab of Ornithology and American Ornithologists’ Union, “Birds of North America Online,” online at (subscription required).

Fairfax County, Va., “Geese Management Program,” online at

Alice Jane Lippson and Robert L. Lippson, Life in the Chesapeake Bay, Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, Md. (2006) (quote used in the audio found on page 162).

Chandler S. Robbins et al., A Guide to Field Identification of Birds of North America, St. Martin’s Press, New York, 2001.

Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, “Fish and Wildlife Information Service,” online at

For More Information about Birds in Virginia and Elsewhere

Cornell University Lab of Ornithology and the Audubon Society, “eBird” Web site at  Here you can find locations of species observations made by contributors, and you can sign up to contribute your own observations.

Virginia Society of Ornithology, online at  The Society is non-profit organization dedicated to the study, conservation, and enjoyment of birds in the Commonwealth.

Xeno-canto Foundation Web site at  The site provides bird songs from around the world.


All Water Radio episodes are listed by category at the Index link above ( See particularly the “Birds” category.

The following episodes focus particularly on seasonal changes in bird populations and activities:
Warblers and spring migration – Episode 157, 4/15/13;
Summer birds – Episode 118, 7/9/12;
Fall migratory birds – Episode 183, 10/14/13; Episode 281, 9/14/15 (on hummingbirds);
Winter birds – Episode 150, 2/25/13.


This episode may help with the following Virginia’s 2010 Science Standards of Learning (SOLs):

Grades K-6 Earth Patterns, Cycles, and Change Theme
K.10 – Changes in natural and human-made things over time.
1.7 – changes in temperature, light, and precipitation affect plants and animals, including humans.
2.7 – Weather and seasonal changes affecting plants and animals.
3.8 – Basic patterns and cycles in nature.

Grades K-6 Earth Resources Theme
4.9 - Va. natural resources, including watersheds, water resources, and organisms.

Grades K-6 Life Processes Theme
2.4 - life cycles.

Grades K-6 Living Systems Theme
2.5 - living things as part of a system, including habitats.
6.7 - natural processes and human interactions that affect watershed systems; Va. watersheds, water bodies, and wetlands; and water monitoring.

Life Science Course
LS.8 - community and population interactions, including food webs, niches, symbiotic relationships.
LS. 10 - changes over time in ecosystems, communities, and populations, and factors affecting those changes.
LS.11 - relationships between ecosystem dynamics and human activity.

Biology Course
BIO.8 - dynamic equilibria and interactions within populations, communities, and ecosystems; including nutrient cycling, succession, effects of natural events and human activities, and analysis of the flora, fauna, and microorganisms of Virginia ecosystems.

The episode may also help with Virginia 2013 Music SOLs at various grade levels that call for “examining the relationship of music to the other fine arts and other fields of knowledge.”

Virginia’s SOLs are available from the Virginia Department of Education, online at