It sounds like a Dr. Seuss book, but the Canada goose setting on her clutch of eggs atop Harold Warren’s shed roof is very serious about her job. Like Horton the Elephant, the goose has been faithfully on duty through the recent rain and wind, freezing temperatures and thunderstorms.
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“It’s the second year she’s done this,” said Warren, 83. “I look at her setting there in the rain, about 10 feet from my bedroom window, and it almost makes me cry. The rain just pours off her and about every 10 minutes, she shakes the rain off her head and checks to see that her eggs are still covered by her down, and then hunkers down again.”
This is the second year the goose has built her nest in the cozy detrius of cedar needles and oak leaves on top of Warren’s shed. From this vantage point, she has an unobstructed view of anything that might approach from the cemetery flanking Warren’s Hidden Springs home or from the mobile home park in front of it. She’s been there since March 25 and Warren expects she has another week or two before the goslings hatch.
Canada geese incubate 2-8 creamy white eggs for 24-28 days. They may continue setting on the nest, keeping their gosling warm for the first week after they hatch. Goslings are capable of walking, swimming and finding their own food immediately after hatching, although they stay with their parents for almost a year.
Last year, the goose hatched out five goslings, one of which died. Although the nest is only a few feet from Warren’s bedroom window, he hasn’t seen how many eggs are in this year’s clutch.
The organic debris on the top of the shed is also a good host for germinating volunteer sunflowers. Last year, Warren said the goslings made him laugh until he cried when they tried to pull up the immature plants. “They would pull and pull and then fall over backwards,” he said.
Before the goose and her offspring left Warren’s shed last spring, neighbors saw them goose-stepping down the middle of Hidden Springs Circle, on their way to the pond. “Everyone just stopped and they walked right on by,” said Warren. “It was just amazing.”
He admits to a bit of worry this year as it’s been four days since he’s seen the gander half of the goose couple. “He usually stays in the cemetery and guards her, but they found a few dead geese down by the pond and I hope he wasn’t one of them,” he said.
Canada geese are monogamous and usually mate for life. While the female incubates the eggs, the male stands guard. During her periodic departures for food, he keeps an eye on the nest.
Why the goose chose his shed for her nest, Warren has no idea, but with the hummingbird feeders around his home and the suet bags that his next-door neighbor, Leo Nored, puts out for finches, it’s a bird haven. “We get all kinds of things in here — turkeys, squirrels, deer and skunks,” said Warren.
After the goslings hatch, the goose family could leave at any time, but Warren and his neighbors are delighted by her return and admiring of her stamina.
“She doesn’t seem to mind when I go out and walk around the shed,” said Warren. “I get a kick of out seeing all those little yellow heads peeping out from under her wing.”
To paraphrase “Horton Hatches an Egg,” — “I meant what I said and I said what I meant, a Canada goose is faithful, 100 percent!”
Contact Wendy Schultz at 530 344-5069 or [email protected] Follow @wschultzMtDemo on Twitter.