Geese--winter nutrition, incl. eating dirt

Discussion in 'Geese' started by lovedbygeese, Dec 19, 2014.

  1. lovedbygeese

    lovedbygeese Out Of The Brooder

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    Hi all!

    My geese are the last surviving 3 out of a flock of maybe 8 who were abandoned at a park at least 7-8 years ago. I look in on them and feed them since the park is unreliable--there's little chance to graze grass (and only sometimes water weeds,) it's unreliable about providing enough water/defensible space and the head of the park recommends feeding fowl cheerios (although I've more often seen birds given tortillas--hard to impossible to eat--and day-old bread.

    I've started noticing that their stools are very dry, stiff and hard (they look painful.) At first I'd thought it might be the rare, thin slices of apple every few visits...maybe the pectin. However, today when I went to visit them they'd eat all they could of the scratch I had, then scoop up beak-fulls of dirt (dirt which the park sprays for insects and constantly exposes to waste water treated with a chlorine-type product (this is also golf course run-off water, so it probably has fertilizers in it and it's inundated with dog/coyote waste that's been left behind.)

    ***I'm just wondering, what could I supplement with in exchange for some of the dirt-eating? They're snooty about gamebird feed & won't eat it at all (the same with spinach.)

    ***One more question, more a matter of "what would you do" : My visits to the birds are brief, don't occur regularly everyday and are usually in the late afternoon (due to photosensitive lupus.) I peacefully sit down in an area on shore that's safe for them, but close to open water. Those brief episodes are moments of peace and love in a life that needs a good bit of both. Knowing them for nearly a decade, they trust me and they know I'll look out for them (esp. re: the 5 or so creatures/situations of which they're most afraid.) I feel honored they'd trust me to look out for them and am as vigilant a watch-woman as they've taught me to be. When I'm with the birds, I just want solace, our one-on-one moments, so I don't talk to others in the park at the same time.

    ***The problem comes with aggressively pushy parents/grandparents/children. Today a mother and photographer goaded a little girl to get closer and closer to the geese until she was only about 3 feet away (I've been there when this same child/mother/photog combo have had the girl terrorizing bunnies and chasing birds in pursuit of the perfect picture.) Today I tried shooing the birds toward the water, but they were really hungry (mornings here have been 40 deg.) I finally stated that I don't consent to photography (this temporarily stunned the trio, but not a lot,) then I peacefully explained that I don't go into their church, this (nature, feeding, bonding) is our church of sorts. They slowly backed off, yet hung around for me to see if/when I'd leave (luckily the birds had settled into the water for evening preening.)

    ***It probably sounds crazy in our camera-hungry world, but is it realistic to wish people would observe another person's personal space and not try using myself or the birds (either for a photo op or to try and beg food from me?) I'm on an extremely limited income--I can't/won't subsidize kids (or parents) who act like just because they're kids, the world should give way and give them everything (esp. when I have to live live hand to mouth, yet their parents/hired photogs are using cameras, reflectors and props worth several thousand dollars. Most importantly, I don't want to breach the trust this tiny surviving family has bestowed me with by randomly giving out food to kids who will use it to bait and torment them.)

    ***The birds just want to eat in safety. I like their personalities, family drama and history we've shared--we're an unusual, loving, adopted family. Wrapping up, I just want to be able to provide them with the food/minerals they're deficient in and the security of knowing they've someone who'll watch out for them.

    ***What would you do/say to maintain the personal space/peace of the birds?

    Sorry for the long post,

    Thanks *so* much!

    lovedbygeese
     
  2. Miss Lydia

    Miss Lydia Running over with Blessings Premium Member

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    As for eating dirt ,dirt has minerals this particular dirt probably has alot more from what you said but that's what their after, also they need grit so might be another reason for eating it. I can't see a happy ending for these geese unless you can take them home and give them all the love and care they need. Seems today alot people don't care much about animals especially those that live in parks, and don't teach their children to respect them either which is such a shame, when what a perfect opportunity to do so. I'm glad they at least have you. Spinach isn't good for birds does something with calcium I'll get you the list of treats that are safe.. this says ducks but most water fowl like the same things so pick and choose and try it on your geese.
    https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/242460/the-ultimate-list-of-duck-treats-and-supplements
     
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2014
  3. jtn42248

    jtn42248 Overrun With Chickens

    Take them some lettuce if you can. Preferably not iceburg. Mine are partial to Romaine and Red Leaf. Also, if there is a way you can manage it, mine love corn on the cob. They may not know what to do with it at first but they will figure it out.

    I know whay you mean about people and pictures. The worst thing that ever happened was the invention of digital photography. Now just about anyone with a cell phone has a camera. Funny too how people who complain about the slightest infringement to their "right to privacy" will grab a camera and violate the privacy of anyone in sight.

    Miss Lydia suggested the possiblity of taking them to your home. If at all possible that would be the best thing that ever happened to them. But make sure you could not be accused of taking city property in doing it. Also, depending on your state, there may be some state laws that could come into play in getting them rescued and protected.

    Good luck and, as a poultry lover, thank you for taking care of them. You get 5 stars in my book.
     
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  4. lovedbygeese

    lovedbygeese Out Of The Brooder

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    You three are my Christmas angels[​IMG]

    And there will be 3 very happy geese because of you (we'll try a little bit of new food each trip, like a really lovely Christmas dinner.)

    The spinach makes so much sense. They knew better than I did and spat it out without a second thought. Thin apple slices on the other hand...they liked their scratch best, but apple slices were loved like Pringles!

    Bringing the little ones home isn't possible, that I know of, so for now it's just about being with them as often as possible, nudging them toward the water if people get too close, assuring them I'll be back and telling them to protect and love one another until then.

    (When I first me them I thought, "How do I love something wild?" Now it's more, "How do you not?")
     
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2014
  5. Miss Lydia

    Miss Lydia Running over with Blessings Premium Member

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    I can understand that, it takes alot of room to house 3 geese. I just wish people loved them as much as you. As for the hard poop maybe adding more greens to their diet will help, eating things people throw at them can cause constipation and even impact their crops, so if you offer them good things to eat hopefully that will keep everything running smooth so to speak. Please keep us updated on them.

    Merry Christmas to you and your geese. .
     
  6. jtn42248

    jtn42248 Overrun With Chickens

    I really think that it is you who are the Christmas Angel. We just share a little of what we have learned. You are doing the job. Of all my birds my geese are my favorites. They have an intellegence and a sensitivity that the chickens and ducks lack. I love them all but the geese are special. Often times I am out with my birds and the thought crosses my mind that, if I knew then what I know now, I would have a flock of 62 geese instead of a mixed flock. Wouldn't that be something!

    Know that you are doing a very special job and those geese thank you and love you for it. I suspect they show that in their own way by what you have said. I pray for my birds and will add yours to my prayers. Have a very Happy Christmas and please do keep us updated. Thanks.
     
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