A Real Mother Goose

Last evening I watched a pair of Canada geese parent their young. The comparison between the evening rituals at the ponds and a lot of human homes was surprising.

First a few facts about the Canada goose. They mate for life and because they are a bit unstable the first couple of years they just learn to be a pair. Most pairs do not breed until their fourth year.

From a distance, it can be hard to distinguish which adult goose is the female. In most cases the only visible difference is size. The easiest way to determine their sex is to listen to their honk and watch their behavior.

The female goose has a much higher pitched honk, and uses it wisely. The male on the other hand has a much louder and deeper voice. In most cases his normally obnoxious behavior becomes even more aggressive when the couple is incubating eggs and as long as the little ones are in their clutch.

Canada geese share parental duties. The female builds the nest but after eggs are laid they both spending time on the nest. As expected the female is on the nest many more hours than the male, leaving only to feed and bathe.

When she is on the nest it’s not unusual for the male to keep an eye on the nest, and sit nearby. When an intruder enters their turf his attitude switches from obnoxious to nasty. It is not unusual for young Canada geese to stay near the parents for a year after they have hatched.

Last evening after the pair and their goslings ate dinner on the banks of the pond. When it was time to return to the nest, the mother goose jumped in the water to bathe. Then one by one she encouraged her little ones to do the same; each would jump in, take their bath, and swim over by their father waiting to go to the nest for the night.

Like many human families there is always that one kid that just doesn’t want to do as they are told. In this image the mother goose takes another dip in the water to prove to her stubborn little one it is bath time. He on the other hand, was not convinced.

I laughed a bit as she raised her voice and took yet another dip. My guess is she was telling her little goose, “get in here before I have to get your father.”


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