22 Jun 2011

Mama duck adopts Too Cute Gosling

Canada Goose
Canada Geese have many more natural enemies than one might think.  These include the Wolf, Fox, Coyote, Bear and Eagle, as well as Hawks, Crows, Ravens, Herons and Bass.   The last five prey on  goslings, while the first in this list prey on the adults.   All my research on the Canada Goose indicates that they would never abandon their young, not even when one of a pair dies.

In view of these facts, I can really only speculate about what might have happened, but when I went back to the pond to check on the Canada Geese and their gosling,  the adult geese were no where to be seen and the gosling was limping around on a broken foot peeping with distress.  It was early morning and I was on my way to work.   I immediately called wildlife rescue to give them his location and condition, thinking that the gosling would be taken care of before the day was done.

Gosling with broken foot
Unfortunately when wildlife rescue called me back a few minutes later, I was informed that they did not have the resources to pick up the gosling, however, if I could pick him up after work, there is a vet clinic in the city that would care for him.   By this time I was really upset.  I have no vehicle, I have two cats at home and therefore no place to keep the gosling safely overnight.  I also didn't have a clue as to how I might capture the little guy without hurting him further, although wildlife rescue did tell me how I might care for him if I caught him.

Mama Duck on alert
When I went back to the pond after work, the adult Canada Geese were still missing.   The gosling was in the middle of the pond still peeping and following around some of the young ducklings.  He seemed lost and lonely, and still obviously very much in distress.  Despite the fact that this is a really small pond, I couldn't reach him.  There were a lot of people around, some with dogs, and all the ducks on the pond were extremely nervous.  It was obvious I had to wait before I could act.  Reluctantly I went home.
Baby Goose cuddled up with baby ducks

Overnight the rain began.  My next trip to the pond was fruitless.  It was pouring buckets and the pond was devoid of all creatures with wings.   Sunday morning I tried again, despite the rain which had slowed down only a little.  By the time I arrived at the pond the rain stopped for a short time and I decided to walk around it, hoping to find the Gosling hiding in the rushes.

Gosling swimming with new family

I did.  He was bedded down with Mama duck and five of her ducklings.  As soon as the Mallard female heard me approach, when I was still about twenty feet away, they all headed for the water.  I couldn't get any closer.  The little Gosling stuck to mama duck like glue and took his cues from her.  If she wouldn't come near me, neither would he, and that was that.   I spread some oats out in the water and then the ground hoping they would come out of the water for the food, but no way.  They didn't come out until I was a long ways away.

Nervous Mama Duck

The Gosling was still limping, but seemed healthy otherwise and content with his new family.  Mama duck acted very much like he was her own.  How do I know this?  When I turned back to try and get a little closer, once they were all feeding on the oats I had spread out on the ground, Mama Duck immediately herded all the ducklings back into the water.  She didn't care that one of her ducklings was almost twice the size of the rest.

As for me I'm happy that he has been adopted.  Still I'd like to catch him to take him to the vet.  His broken foot will slow him down and hinder him throughout his life.   However, other than using a net and / or coaxing  him closer with food, there really is no other means for me to catch him.   This pond is surrounded by nothing but grass and rushes.   There is no place for me to set up a blind so he doesn't see me.   No cover big enough to hide behind so I might set a box trap, the only thing that I could think of  to catch him without causing him further harm.


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