Odd goose behavior around goslings

Discussion in 'Geese' started by Fishkeeper, Apr 4, 2018.

  1. Fishkeeper

    Fishkeeper Songster

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    The park near us has some assorted domestic geese. I'm reasonably certain that most of them are African geese and Pilgrim geese, and about the same number is generally scattered up and down the river, so they seem to be permanent residents.

    Today I went to look for goslings, and I found some. I also found some geese shouting at each other.
    [​IMG]
    Those are the babies, and goose A standing off to the side. That's a Pilgrim, right?

    Goose A was staying close to the babies, I assume she's the mother.
    Goose B was an African goose. Not sure if male or female. I think male by the size?
    Goose C was another female Pilgrim.

    Goose A was staying close to the babies, not doing much, but got louder if goose C got close. C kept trying to come in close to the babies, but B would chase her away whenever she tried, wouldn't let her get closer than 10 feet away.

    You can see from the pic there's a stone wall behind them. The wall lines that whole side of the river, and the babies were standing on a long, thin island that started at the wall and ran out into the river. I came back later in the evening and they were all still there, so I picked up the babies and put them on the bank. The bank is about 2 feet higher than the river, and I didn't think the babies could get back up to the clump of bushes I assume their nest was in, so I put them up in case they needed a boost. They could have gotten out of the river on the other side, but a couple of babies went into the water and immediately got out, I don't think they were ready to swim yet. When I picked up the babies, they peeped loudly (of course) and all three adult geese stopped what they were doing in order to shout at me, then settled and B went back to fending off C when I put the babies down.

    So any ideas what was going on? I thought A and B might be a mated pair and C might be trying to adopt the babies or something like that. Can African and Pilgrim geese crossbreed? Or could the Pilgrims be hybrids that no longer display color sexual dimorphism, and one of the Pilgrims was a male? I know I've read that two bonded male swans will sometimes mate with a female and then chase her away after the eggs are laid, but I don't know if geese do the same.
     
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  2. Pyxis

    Pyxis Hatchi Wan Kenobi

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    Those aren't goslings, those are ducklings, and they're a domestic breed too, so not wild. Most likely dumped by someone that wanted them for Easter and then was done with them so they dumped them off at the pond to die.

    The geese aren't going to take care of them because they aren't their babies. If possible, please catch them and find a good home for them, or take them to a shelter.
     
  3. Fishkeeper

    Fishkeeper Songster

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    Ah, heck, really?
    I was wondering why they didn't look like pictures of goslings I saw online. They were coming to the geese yelling, though. Maybe looking for warmth? No wonder they weren't following any of the geese.
    I'm sure they're still there, I'll go catch them.

    EDIT:
    Good news! I went out to the park, and I found them, but they don't need rescuing. That Pilgrim goose who was sticking so close to them yesterday has adopted them! And she must have taught them how to waterproof their feathers, they were out swimming with her. She was definitely taking care of them, and the African goose was hanging out nearby all protectively.
    I couldn't catch them now if I tried, and I think I don't need to try. There are Muscovy ducks at the river, so probably this isn't the first time someone has dumped post-Easter ducklings, and the Muscovies seem to do well.
     
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2018
  4. Pyxis

    Pyxis Hatchi Wan Kenobi

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    That is fabulous news :) Geese can be like that sometimes, willing to take in babies that aren't their own. Chances are she waterproofed their feathers for them with her own oil, since they don't start producing their own oil for awhile.
     
  5. Ruralhideaway

    Ruralhideaway Crowing

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    Well what a great ending! Good for you for being alert enough to notice, and ready to rescue them.
     
  6. Mr.Mom

    Mr.Mom In the Brooder

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    Really good story. So glad you were ready to provide for them. I had a male African goose who raised babies as a single dad when the female got stolen (well she just came up missing) I was so proud of him
     
  7. Fishkeeper

    Fishkeeper Songster

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    I couldn't keep them, we have two cats, but I was more than willing to put them in the bathtub for a few days until I figured out who in the neighborhood could take them. Figured a shallow dish of water and some chick feed would keep them happy until I found a new home. I probably would have posted on here to see if anyone local wanted them!

    I'm definitely going to keep an eye on the area in case some idiot dumps more ducklings. There's a Tractor Supply near us that has ducklings in stock, that's probably where they came from. One would hope that the ducklings were dumped in the usually-misguided hope that something would adopt them, but, agh. Sometimes people are morons. I'm just glad there was a goose willing to adopt that batch of babies. Definitely won't risk another lucky adoption if more dumped babies turn up, I'll be sure to catch those right away before one of the meaner geese can go after them or a hawk can eat them.

    It's really cool how this worked out. I wonder if the adoptive mother had a batch of eggs that didn't hatch, or something else put her maternal instincts into overdrive? Or maybe she's just a particularly mothering goose. Really neat that she had the instinct to oil them up when they weren't able to do it themselves, because they were absolutely not waterproofed the first time I saw them. Poor babies were all wet. They were definitely waterproofed this morning, though, swimming around all happy in five feet of water.

    Do geese form cross-species pair bonds on a semi-regular basis? I haven't watched for long enough to be sure, but I think the adoptee Pilgrim and the African goose are a pair. They were certainly working together, and the African goose was doing that watchful-parent posture around the babies this morning.

    With context, I've figured out what was going on. Goose A was attempting to adopt the babies, goose B seems to have been guarding her and the babies, and I think goose C might have been being aggressive? Could have been she was also trying to get to the babies to adopt them. The poor babies must have been so confused! I wondered why they weren't following any of the adult geese, they were mostly either peeping in a bundle or dabbling in the edge of the water.
     
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  8. Pyxis

    Pyxis Hatchi Wan Kenobi

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    Those would be the same species, just different breeds :) And yep, they will happily pair to a different breed, breed doesn't matter to them.
     
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  9. The goose girl

    The goose girl Songster

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    Re waterproofing of goslings: Konrad Lorenz figured out that it's not oil from the parents (which they use for waterproofing their feathers); it's static from rubbing up against them that makes the down water repellent. He replicated the effect somewhat by rubbing a gosling with a silk scarf.
     
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