Sunday, May 9, 2010

The Story Of A Mother Goose

This is the story of a mother goose I found last year sitting on her nest at my new favorite nature park. I watched her very closely for one whole month until her eggs hatched. Then I watched throughout the summer as the little family swam around the lake, up until the whole group finally flew away for the winter. This is a special recap of one of the most amazing things I've ever seen.

The picture above shows the way I found this goose on April 14, 2009. She was sitting on here nest, but I didn't know yet if there were any eggs under her yet or not. She was sitting at the edge of the dam at the end of the lake, well protected by a big fence, but still close enough to walk right up to her. The male goose(gander) always swam close by in the lake. I went back to see her almost every day.

It was about two weeks later on April 28 that she finally got up off the nest while I was there. It was almost as if she wanted to finally show me her eggs. She seemed to stand there proudly showing off her future babies as I took about fifty pictures, as I always do. The father swam extra close just to make sure I didn't turn mean.

There were exactly seven eggs there. That's standard for all geese.

It was another two weeks, on May 14, exactly one month after I found her, right after a big thunderstorm hit us. I was very worried about the nesting goose and her eggs the night the storm was at its heaviest. So I rushed to the park as soon as I could the next day so I could check on her.

The whole area was flooded, including the viewing platform of the dam. I had to walk up the side to find her. I was very worried because I couldn't see her at first. When I got close to her, this is what I saw. She was absolutely soaked! The poor thing looked like a Thanksgiving turkey. She was spread out on the nest as if she was trying to give extra protection to the eggs.

I was just glad she made it through the storm. I wondered about her eggs though.

I went back the very next day to do a routine check on her, and I found what I initially thought to be a heartbreaking sight. The mother was gone, and the eggs were all broken! I was devastated until I took a moment to examine the nest more closely, and to think just a little bit.

These eggs weren't smashed, they were cracked open. The babies had hatched! That must have been why the mother was spread out over the nest so much yesterday! The babies must have been hatching then as I watched! Now I knew what must have happened.

The eggs hatched the day before. And as soon as the babies were ready, the mother took them off of the side of the dam and they all swam away to a safer place for live young ones. It was actually a very smart move on her part. This was a high traffic area for humans. And not everyone would resist stealing a baby goose for themselves. And the babies would become too friendly to understand. But now they were safe.

But did I see the last of them?

It took me about three more weeks, but on June 5 I finally found the whole goose family swimming along the lake. The babies(goslings) had obviously done some growing in all that time. I was really glad to see them because I thought I might never see them again. You can't quite see all of the babies here, but I think six of the seven survived. That's not bad.

This family later joined with another family of a similar size to form a whole new flock. I watched throughout the summer as these little goslings grew into full fledged geese. The funny thing was that they used to swim up to me as if they knew me. They would even come when I called them. They didn't do that for other people as far as I could tell.

I watched as these little ones grew bigger and bigger. I watched as they began to test their wings learning to fly. I watched as their yellow colored feathers changed into the familiar colors of adult Canada geese. I finally saw them for the last time right before they flew away for the winter.

If you would like to read the whole extended story of the mother goose and her young ones, just follow the links I included in the story. Do a search for "geese" to read even more about the further adventures of these very same geese. This whole story was one of the most incredible things I've ever witnessed.


  1. Isn't that neat!?! That must have been a wonderful experience to have had; I sure am glad you had your camera so you could share it with the rest of us :o)

  2. I'm with Jen what a wonderful experience. I'm surprised though by the location of her nest. I would have thought they would build the nest in a more secluded or at least hidden spot.

  3. I am not kidding, I am doing the same on the family of a Tailorbird.

    You have a good story and observation on the mother goose. I hope I can have mine too.

  4. What a wonderful description of your experience with the goose and her goslings. It makes for a very nice introduction into spring. Birth is certainly symbolic of this time of year.

  5. Wow, that is a wonderful story especially on Mother's day. I bet it was tons of fun watching those Geese growing up and swimming around the pond. I think it is so great that they start swimming when they are born.
    Happy Mother's day.

  6. Awww, your post made me smile. So sweet!

  7. what a lovely story Ratty...did all the eggs hatch though as I notice only 4 goslings on the water and you siad there were 7 eggs??

  8. I remember this story, what a very lovely story to share for Mother's Day.

  9. What a great story Ratty and the fact that you were able to chronicle this with your camera is wonderful. I loving reading stories like this.

  10. This couldn't be more perfect for Mother's Day. Funny actually, I just saw a new family of babies in the lake across the way from my home.

  11. It was a heart-breaking sight to see one of the egg didn't make it. Thank God the majority survived.

  12. This was the perfect Mother's Day post! I hope a kitty didn't get one of the goslings. That would be really embarrassing...

  13. You must have felt like Grandpa Ratty with this family of geese! It was so nice to follow their story from start to finish. I know you must have worried about them in that severe storm. I often wonder how animals and birds feel about the loss of babies. I truly think they do have feelings!

  14. Wow.. that's some great story. So glad almost all lil ones survived. You've been observing them for such a long time without a break, which is commendable.

    I've seen some geese a couple of times, but not a family, which is a pleasing sight.