[CT Birds] Cliff-nesting Canada Geese

paul cianfaglione pgcianfaglione at gmail.com
Tue Jul 10 08:42:47 EDT 2012

For the past three years I have been watching both Peregrine Falcons and
Common Ravens nest along the cliffs of the Balf Quarry in Newington. Of all
of the wonderful observations this location has presented, one stands out
to me as being almost nonsensical, the cliff-face nesting of Canada Geese.
After each visit to the quarry, I frequently found myself asking, why would
a pair of Canada Geese ever choose a nest site a hundred feet up on the
edge of a cliff??

Last weekend, while finishing up Pete Dunne’s book *The Wind Masters*, I
came upon a passage that may have answered my question. This from a cliff
face in the Brooks Range of Alaska;

*As odd as it might seem for a falcon to nest in proximity to other
predators, the Peregrine’s closest neighbor would arouse greater curiosity.
Below the Peregrine, less than a stone’s toss away, was the huddled form of
the Canada Goose. Beneath the goose was her clutch of five eggs. *

* *

*If the Peregrine seemed like stone, the goose seemed like part of the
cliff itself, so quietly did she lie and so closely did she resemble the
shale piled around her. But the bird’s quiescence was not due to any fear
of the falcon. Indeed, the goose had selected this site for her nest to
take advantage of the Peregrine’s defensive umbrella and the curious,
benign indifference Peregrines seem to bestow upon birds nesting close to
their nest sites – even birds that Peregrines call prey. *

With raven numbers dramatically increasing in Connecticut, their impact on
other species is starting to become more apparent.  Just this spring, I
watch a pair of raven plunder two Killdeer nests behind Cabela’s in East

Paul Cianfaglione


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