Friday, May 18, 2012

Our Goose Family at Lake Fairfield

(Rissa on the island)
(We investigated this nest once they moved out.  It was amazing how the nest was made with all the down feathers, sticks and leaves.)
Nesting: Canada Geese build their nest with grass and plant material and line it with feather down. The geese typically nest on the ground on islands and shorelines. However, they're very adaptable birds and in urban settings nest where ever it seems safe to them -- even on the edge of the runway at the airport or on the edge of the water traps on the golf course!
So with that said, they love our island!  Every spring they fly in on the lake and stake out their spot on our island. 

(Nibbles, aka bat girl, was helping us with our investigation)
The female lays her eggs as soon as there is open water for mating and snow-free nest sites.
The female typically lays a clutch of 5 to 7 white eggs (though the number can range anywhere from 2 to 12) while the male guards the nesting area. Laying the eggs is not a simple task. Each egg takes a little over a day to lay.
Prior to taking these pictures of the abandoned nest, Clarissa and I went down to the island Easter Sunday to enjoy the morning before the day really got started.  We were just sitting on the island when all of a sudden two geese jumped up and started trying to run us off by hissing at us.  We had no idea at the time that we were right beside the nest...it wasn't that pretty at the time, looked like a bunch of leaves then.  But eventually we discovered that the nest was there and they wouldn't let us on the island for about a month.  Rain, sleet, thunder and lightening the little goose would sit right there until one weekend I noticed she kept standing up and looking underneath her.  Then the next week, I looked down at the island and they were gone!  So after work one day, we all went down  to inspect and this is what we found.
It looked as if she had laid at least three eggs and only two had hatched.  A few days later I noticed two geese on the island looking at what we saw, an unhatched egg and scraps of two.  A few days later we inspected again and it appeared that they had covered or buried the one that didn't hatch deep underneath the left over feathers.  I've seen a couple of geese come back from time to time but I have no idea if it's the same couple.  Scott has seen families on the lake since ,but hard to tell whose who...I hope they have a happy little family even though they all didn't hatch.
Migration: After the babies (called 'goslings') have hatched, the family moves away from the nesting site on foot toward more favorable feeding areas. Five weeks after the goslings hatch, the females begin moulting(the males begin right after mating). During this time, the adults are unable to fly. The adults regrow their flight feathers and are ready to fly at about the same time as the goslings are able to learn - at nine weeks old.
In autumn, as soon as the young are strong enough for the trip, they begin their migration south. They learn the migration routes from their parents and follow the same route in subsequent years. 
(info from Kidzone)

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