Jack Miner was effusive in his praise of the intelligence and faithfulness of Canada Geese. But he may not have been aware of their ability to tell time.
Our last visit to the Jack Miner Migratory Bird Sanctuary took place about 25 years ago. The sanctuary is located on the original Miner farm on the shore of Lake Erie, close to the town of Kingsville. At that time, Manley Miner, Jack’s son and already elderly himself, was the manager. There is a narrow field between the Lake and the road running south of the Miner homestead, and here is where Manley fed the geese twice a day.
The afternoon feeding is scheduled for 5:00 and when we got there at a quarter to five there was not a goose to be seen. There were other people there to watch and one of them told us “They’ll all be here by five. Just wait and see.” We wandered around while waiting, the minutes ticked by and we didn’t see any sign of a goose.
At five minutes before the scheduled feeding time we heard a faint honking in the distamce. Then more honking coming from a different direction, and then from another. Soon geese were landing on that strip of land and by 5:00 there were hundreds of them on the ground, loudly greeting each other.
It wasn’t that they saw or heard Manley coming with his little tractor and wagon load of cracked corn. He was fifteen minutes late that day. But the geese knew when he should have been there.