Thursday, April 27, 2017

How Do They Decide ? ~ A Canadian Geese Story

Well it is springtime in Alberta, which means that we are still wearing our winter jackets, there is snow on the ground and each day it threatens to snow or at least it rains a bit.  But... this doesn't stop the Canadian geese from coming back in March.  I love spotting pairs of geese.  Some are still milling around together and some are already sitting on eggs.

I know that they return to the same nesting spot each year.  So, how do they make that original decision on where a good nesting spot would be?  Around here, the lucky ones hang out at our cemetery.  There aren't too may humans to bother them, there is a great pond to swim in and best of all, the staff keep baggies of food to feed them in the office.  Frequent visitors know to go in and ask. These geese get really excited to see humans, after all there could be a snack involved.  It is a really beautiful spot to live.  I consider these geese to be the "upper income" geese.  Then there are the "lower income" geese.  These are the ones you see nesting on the side of a busy highway next to a shallow slough.  Why hang out there when there has to be a better spot and why return each year to the same crappy location?

This year I have spotted a pair in the worst spot ever!  Mama is sitting on her eggs, on top of a low juniper shrub,  in a small curbed area in a parking lot right next to a parking stall.  I mean the nest is about a foot away from where a car would pull in and park.  The building houses Rob's chiropractor and many other businesses and is somewhat busy.  It just makes me sad.  Papa hangs out on top of the roof of The Superstore, which is one building over, or sometimes he hangs out in The Superstore parking lot.  Why choose to nest there?  How are those goslings going to stay safe and not get run over?  Where is their water source?  Upon chatting with an elderly lady who lives in the old folks home nearby, where Rob's mother lives, they have been nesting there in previous years.  Don't they want a better life?  ;)  The geese who hang out in the better parts of town have ducks for neighbours.  Today Mama had a crow sitting next to her nest and last time I visited it was a seagull.  So sad.

I was laying in bed the other night thinking that the owners of the building should barricade that one parking stall off so that this poor family can have some peace and quiet.  I'm clearly not the only person who is worrying for this couple.  I spied a plastic Cool Whip container filled with clean water sitting near the nest.  A makeshift water source supplied by a human who doesn't realize that the female will briefly leave the nest to eat and drink.  Papa will keep the eggs warm while she is gone.

I will continue to visit the nesting area when I'm in the neighbourhood.  I'll keep you posted.  I guess it could be worse.  Each year we hear stories on the news of couples who decide to nest on a roof top or the balcony of a high rise.  No worries though, we call in the firemen to rescue the babies.  It is just what Canadians do to protect the Canadian geese.  I guess it is true for all living beings that life is not as easy for one as it is for the next.



  1. I really enjoyed reading this.

  2. Maybe geese are like humans in some ways - there are always those who prefer to live in the core of the city where all the action is. LOL Great post!

  3. Love this. I hope the goslings will be ok being next to the parking lot. I miss the geese. I am trying to figure out the point of the developer here, putting in all of these stagnant ponds that breed mosquitos, but yet cut down all of the reeds and cattails around the ponds to kick the geese out. Years ago, there were quite a few geese families nesting here. It is, or was, the only enjoyable thing in this place. There are so few around now. :-( I miss seeing all of the goslings and watching them grow. The ducks have left too. Sad.

  4. Lovely story. It makes me feel all warm that there are caring people out there. I quite like Canadian Geese. There is a returning nesting pair at the local Walmart & the employees mark off an area with overturned carts. The geese can get quite aggressive otherwise.


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