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Goose Island Is Filled With Geese Right Now, Which Makes Sense

By Justin Breen | March 31, 2017 5:26am
 Geese on Goose Island
Geese on Goose Island
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DNAinfo/Justin Breen

GOOSE ISLAND — Goose Island is currently filled with geese.

It makes sense that the island surrounded by the Chicago River is a good spot for geese, who flock to the city in tens of thousands this time of year. The island has open space and is next to water, according to Douglas Stotz, a senior conservation ecologist at the Field Museum.

And since the island has no full-time residents, by city standards there is less human activity than other areas.

Goose Island's roots may have something to do with actual geese. According to Encyclopedia of Chicago, Goose Island was a small clay island just north of where the north and south branches of the Chicago River met. That island was filled with geese and other birds.

Geese on Goose Island. [DNAinfo/Justin Breen]

Despite major industrial reshaping of the island, there was still a large amount of open space even at the turn of the 20th century, according to Encyclopedia of Chicago. Residents, starting with Irish squatters in the mid-1800s, lived on the island for decades, but by the 1970s, only three families remained, and, by 1985, only one house remained.

Because there are lots of geese on the island, that also means there's lots of goose poop. Each Canada goose poops about a pound a day.

Tens of thousands of the Maxima subspecies of Canada geese are currently all over Chicago. The subspecies was thought to be extinct but was discovered in the early 1960s. The birds were reintroduced into areas throughout the continent, including Chicago. The Maxima subspecies now numbers in the millions.