If there's a wild Canada goose following you, it often means you're being chased angrily from a pond or harassed for bread crumbs. But as a new viral video illustrates, the famously surly birds can be surprisingly civil — even compliant.
Andre Bachman first realized a goose was tailing him as he drove along a gravel road in rural southwest Alberta. "The goose was flying above when it saw his truck and started flying beside him," writes Reddit user Watchboy0, who posted a video of the encounter titled "A Canada Goose was following my dad in his truck."
Curious why a goose would spontaneously follow a pickup truck, Bachman pulled over — as did the goose. He began filming with his smartphone as he stepped out to greet the goose, which was waddling nonchalantly toward him.
"Hi," Bachman said. "What are you doing? Are you lost?"
The goose didn't answer, aside from quiet honking. But its behavior spoke volumes, revealing a level of comfort with humans that suggests it may have been a pet at some point. Shooing it with "off you go, off you go" didn't work, so Bachman decided to embrace the goose's idea. Thinking it might need help finding water, he set out for Shining Bank Lake, which the CBC reports is about 10 kilometers (6 miles) away.
"Let's go for a flight, OK?" he offered. As Bachman filmed through his truck window, he began driving and coaching the goose to follow. It started with a brisk trot — a pretty amusing sight on its own — and then flapped into flight, letting Bachman capture an endearing view of it flying alongside to the Beatles' "Let It Be."
A Canada goose flies alongside a pickup truck on its way to Alberta's Shining Bank Lake. (Photo: Andre Bachman/YouTube)
Bachman stopped at least once to check on the goose, saying "I almost hit you, didn't I?" and noting its tameness when the bird let him pet it. As goose expert Sid Andrews of Inglewood Bird Sanctuary tells Canada's Global News, even wild Canada geese accustomed to handouts rarely tolerate that.
"I would guess that because it allowed the fellow driving the truck to get very close, that at some point in time, it must have been imprinted on human beings," Andrews says, adding that it also may have simply mistaken its reflection in the truck's bumper for another goose. "It somehow got lost or estranged from the group and found, just by happenstance, another goose in the reflection in the bumper."
Either way, the goose had little trouble keeping up. "My dad would just about stop for the corners after the first one to let it turn," Watchboy0 writes on Reddit. "Also, at one point he wanted to see how fast it could go. At around 80 km/h [50 mph], the goose started flying above his truck on the air coming off his windshield."
Once at the lake, the goose "seems happy and stays," Bachman writes on YouTube, where the video has been watched more than 1.5 million times in about a week. The bird was probably never in serious distress, Andrews says, but Bachman may still have done it a favor by leading it to water. "I certainly would applaud [the driver's] instincts to head to water because it'll have a much better chance of finding food."