Positive peeper body language

By Katherine Pioli

What is Ben talking about? Aggressive peepers!? This very morning I crouched down to talk with my birds and the Protester came right up, peeping. He stood close enough and still enough to let me ruffle his breast feathers with my fingers. I stroked his wings, too. He likes the attention. The ladies are much more aloof. They don’t let me touch them.

The peepers have their moods. Sometimes they are restless. On these days they squawk with little provocation. We have long since stopped running to the door expecting a raccoon attack. Some days they still follow us around like goslings. Other days they don’t want anything to do with us. Just last week the Protester hissed at me and bit at my pant leg. So they are getting more aggressive. I chalk it up to sexual maturity. But I never let them chase me and if I stand my ground when they are in a bad mood, they soon turn away.

There is no denying that geese are more temperamental than chickens, or ducks. If you want waterfowl but don’t want to deal with grumpy, go for ducks. If you want waterfowl with more personality, get geese. Start thinking about it! We want to start hatching soon. Are our readers ready to take a gosling or duckling home? (If so, drop us a line: royalaxation@gmail.com)

My sister took care of the birds this past weekend. She has known them since they first arrived, but she doesn’t come around much, so she is a stranger to them. “They are getting more aggressive,” she said, and reported that they had also tried to nip at her legs. Still, it wasn’t enough to frighten her or drive her away. Despite all that, she said the birds still followed her calmly around the yard when they knew it was feed time.

My personal trick with the ducks and geese is behave gently and exude calm. And, watch what the birds do! They move slowly, picking their way across the yard, peeping, when they are happy and calm. They honk and run when they are bothered and cross. So I approach them in slow motion. I crouch down to a a less intimidating size when I am within a few feet of them. And I chatter at them quietly and softly, sometimes in English, some

times in peeper-speak. Usually, this makes them trusting and curious. And on the good days, I get to pet them. But I always wait for them to come to me. 

This article was originally published on February 19, 2013.