I saw this harrowing video on how barnacle goslings have to jump off very high cliffs because the parent's can't feed them. The death rate seems high. Why did natural selection come to favor jumping rather than the parents bringing food to the nest like most bird species?
Like all geese, the goslings are not fed by the adults. Instead of bringing food to the newly hatched goslings, the goslings are brought to the ground. Unable to fly, the three-day-old goslings jump off the cliff and fall; their small size, feathery down, and very light weight helps to protect some of them from serious injury when they hit the rocks below, but many die from the impact.
8 Things to Consider Before Raising Geese
Rebekah started a small farm with her husband in 2016 in upstate New York, just north of the pristine Adirondack Mountains, where she grows vegetables and herbs and also raises sheep, chickens, and pigs. There’s nothing she loves more than helping others learn more especially about sustainable living as it pertains to health and homesteading. An avid cook, she works hard to grow and preserve enough food to support her family throughout the year.
It seems as though just about every homestead in the country has a few chickens – or perhaps more than just a few – running around.
Sure, chickens are great – but if you’re interested in trying out a new breed of poultry for your backyard farm, the goose is an option you might want to consider next.
Why? Because there are so many great reasons for keeping geese. They are great at foraging and exceptionally friendly (despite their bad rap for being a bit cranky!). Geese are productive and beneficial additions to a farm.
However, they do present their own challenges, so it’s important that you familiarize yourself with their unique requirements and characteristics before you jump right in.
Raising geese is not difficult – but there are some things you need to consider. Here’s what you should know about raising geese.
How to Stop a Goose Attack
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Geese are territorial birds and are known to chase or attack humans who disturb their territory. While geese may chase people, an actual physical attack is fairly rare. You can stop a goose's aggression by respectfully leaving its territory. Back away slowly, while remaining calm. Do not do anything that may escalate the situation, like yelling. In the event you are injured, seek medical attention to assess your injuries.
Why can't geese regurgitate food? - Biology
Rats can't vomit. They can't burp either, and they don't experience heartburn. Rats can't vomit for several related reasons: (1) Rats have a powerful barrier between the stomach and the esophagus. They don't have the esophageal muscle strength to overcome and open this barrier by force, which is necessary for vomiting. (2) Vomiting requires that the two muscles of the diaphragm contract independently, but rats give no evidence of being able to dissociate the activity of these two muscles. (3) Rats don't have the complex neural connections within the brain stem and between brain stem and viscera that coordinate the many muscles involved in vomiting.
One of the main functions of vomiting is to purge the body of toxic substances. Rats can't vomit, but they do have other strategies to defend themselves against toxins. One strategy is super-sensitive food-avoidance learning. When rats discover a new food, they taste a little of it, and if it makes them sick they scrupulously avoid that food in the future, using their acute senses of smell and taste. Another strategy is pica , the consumption of non-food materials (particularly clay), in response to nausea. Clay binds some toxins in the stomach, which helps dilute the toxin's effect on the rat's body.
Vomiting, or emesis, is the reflexive act of ejecting stomach contents forcefully through the mouth by coordinated muscular contractions.
One of the main functions of vomiting is to rid the body of toxic substances. The body has several hierarchical lines of defense against toxins (Davis et al. 1986):
- First line of defense: Avoidance of certain foods due to smell or taste cues
- Second line of defense: Detection of toxins in the gut followed by nausea (prevents further consumption) and vomiting (purges the body of already ingested toxin)
- Third line of defense: Detection of toxins in the circulation by a sensor in the central nervous system, also followed by vomiting.
Mechanisms of human vomiting
Vomiting is a complex suite of coordinated muscular actions, controlled by a group of nuclei in the brainstem. In essence, great pressure is put on the stomach by surrounding muscles and the esophagus is opened. The result is that the stomach's contents are expelled forcefully from the mouth (Fig 1).
Figure 1. The emetic reflex in humans. (a) digestive system at rest, and (b) digestive system during the emetic reflex. The diaphragm puts pressure on the stomach, the esophagus opens, and the stomach contents are expelled forcefully into the esophagus and out of the mouth.
More specifically, during vomiting the muscles of the abdomen and chest contract and the diaphragm spasms downward and inward, which all put pressure on the stomach. In the next phase, the part of the diaphragm that surrounds the esophagus relaxes, thus helping to open the esophagus. The longitudinal muscle of the esophagus contracts, further opening the junction between the stomach and esophagus. The pressure forces the contents of the stomach up into the esophagus and out of the mouth (for reviews with much more detail, see Brizzee 1990, Lang and Sarna 1989, Miller 1999).
Rats are considered a non-vomiting species (also called nonemetic ) (Hatcher 1924). Rats do not vomit in response to cues that cause vomiting in other animals, like emetic drugs, poison, motion-sickness, and radiation (e.g. Takeda et al. 1993). Rats also don't belch and experience hardly any reflux (heartburn).
Regurgitation vs. vomiting
Rats cannot vomit, but they do regurgitate occasionally. Regurgitation is different from vomiting. Vomiting is the forceful expulsion of stomach contents from the mouth. Vomiting is an active process: it is a complex, powerful reflex requiring the coordination of many muscles. In contrast, regurgitation is the passive, effortless flow of undigested stomach contents back into the esophagus. Regurgitation happens without any forceful abdominal contractions.
There is at least one report of rats choking on regurgitated stomach contents (Will et al. 1979). Upon necropsy, the regurgitated stomach contents ( regurgitant ) were found to be thick and pasty. They were packed into the rats' pharynx, larynx and esophagus. The action of the tongue had packed the regurgitant into a plug, causing choking. The rats' tongues were also lacerated or bruised from attempts to remove the material by chewing or clawing. Regurgitation was more common in rats fed bulky diets than those fed on standard diets, and more common in females than in males.
Other actions that may resemble vomiting, but are not
Difficulty swallowing, choking : Rats may have trouble swallowing a food item. A rat who has trouble swallowing a food item may strain intently, pull his chin down toward his throat and flatten his ears. He may drool saliva, paw at his mouth, and rub his mouth on nearby surfaces. Most rats are still able to breathe through this (true choking is rare in rats), and work the food out themselves in time, but serious cases may require veterinary asssitance.
Difficulty swallowing may superficially resemble vomiting because partly processed food may come back out of the mouth, but it is not vomiting, which is the forceful, rapid, coordinated, reflexive explusion of stomach contents.
Respiratory distress : rats may be found choking, gagging on, or struggling to breath through a cream or tan colored foamy substance. This foam is not made of stomach contents, but of mucus brought up from the lungs that has been whipped up into a froth. This foam is a symptom of a respiratory problem, not regurgitation or vomiting (pers comm B. Mell D.V.M., 2004).
Figure 2. Diagram of the rat's stomach. Adapted from Moore 2000.
The rat's stomach has two parts (Robert 1971):
- Forestomach : thin-walled, non-glandular section that receives the esophagus and serves as a holding chamber for food. Its walls are similar to those of the esophagus.
- Corpus : thick-walled, glandular section. Its walls have secretory glands that produce digestive enzymes and mucus. Digestion begins in the corpus. The pyloric sphincter controls the movement of food from the corpus to the intestines (specifically, the duodenum).
Figure 3. Diagram of a rat stomach opened along the greater curvature of the stomach. Adapted from Robert 1971.The forestomach and the corpus are separated by a low fold of tissue called the limiting ridge ( margo plicatus ). The limiting ridge extends circumferentially from the large curvature of the stomach to the small curvature, just below the esophagus. At the esophagus, the course of the limiting ridge bends into a U-shape and almost surrounds the esophageal opening (Luciano and Reale 1991, Robert 1971, Botha 1958) (Fig 3).