Gosling Parade

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Across the street from our house is a 100 year pasture that has a line of enormous cottonwood trees that sit about ¼ mile from the main road by a small pond. To the south is a large copse of trees that is totally wild.

For three or four years a pair of Canadian geese, George and Weesie, nest near that little pond.  George was probably born near the lagoon system of our housing addition. But his parents were very territorial and he had to find a different place for his nest site, so he found one as close as he could to his place of birth.

The nest was well hidden so the coyotes could not find it, but if one did it was placed well enough that the father and mother could defend it and run him off. Sometimes the nest was on the ground and near the water but if possible it would be in an elevated spot.

The parents had mated for life and were great parents and would defend each other and the nest with their lives. Anyone or anything that came close to their nest would pay the price of being flown into and beaten with those huge wings and they would try to take a chunk of skin out with their bills.

Several times during the day you could hear one of the parents fly over the house, honking all the way to keep in touch with their mate who was on the nest. He or she was on the way to the lagoon to feed on the vegetation that grows around them. A few hours later he or she would fly back to guard the nest and their young, that were yet to hatch, while the mate went to eat.

In late spring or early summer the little ones hatched and there would be up to six or eight little fluffy yellow goslings. Very quickly they would leave the nest and join the parents in the water so they could feed, because the parents do not bring food to them.

Once the goslings have eaten for a few weeks and have grown to about the size of a banty chicken and are starting to lose the yellow color and turn beige, George knows it is time to take them to the lagoon. All the other pairs that were nesting there have hatched out their young and the fight over space for nesting sites is long forgotten. They can all coexist and get along now.

So early one morning George decided it was time to round up all six or eight of the kids and take them to the lagoon. The young at this age cannot fly so they would have to walk the mile or mile and a quarter to the lagoon.

Instead of walking the young across the field which would have taken a little distance off the walk he would walk them towards the house that sits at the back of the field. They walked to the paved drive and then started to walk east toward Monroe. George was at the front of the little parade and then the young goslings were lined up behind him and Weesie brought up the rear.

When the little parade arrived at Monroe, George would pause to check for traffic and when none was coming he would rush the young across the busy street with frantic honks. Once all the young were in the yard across from the pasture he would pause for a few minutes to let the young rest.

Eventually he would honk loudly to round them up and they would all line up behind him and he would start the parade again, George in front, then the goslings in a straight line and Weesie brought up the rear.

Down through the yards they came heading south. George would be honking to keep them all in line and to tell them to follow him.

Thankfully instead of walking along the road they stayed in the yards, walking across the circle drives of the two houses to the north of ours, and then because we don’t have a circle drive he would move up onto the level part of our yard avoiding the deep ditch.

Once in our yard he would take another little break to let the goslings rest under the large tree in the front yard for few minutes before moving on. Once they were rounded up with George in the front and then the goslings and Weesie bringing up the rear they moved on south crossing 72nd street.

They could have walked down 72nd to the east and then down Madison and then over to the lagoons on Hemlock, but George would not take the easy or safer route. George had it mapped out in his head and they traveled the same route every year.

They would now march across 5 more yards to get to Hemlock Street where they would turn left and go east. The worst was behind them and they only had 4 blocks to walk before they would reach the lagoon system. Once there George could introduce his young to their extended family.

Once across Hemlock he would pause in the open area of the south entrance to the addition for a short rest. The goslings were free to wander around and pick at the weeds and grass if they stayed close. After a few minutes George would round them up again and walk them through the yards on the south side of the street.

Once on the move again, George and Weesie were getting excited to get to the lagoon and the safety of the water, and even Weesie began to honk. They moved the young through the four yards as they walked east, then they turned south at the next street for only half a block and then east again and walked through an open lot to the lagoons.

With a lot of honking and flapping of wings they announced they had arrived and hurried the goslings into the pond for their first meal on the moss that grows there. The little gosling parade had taken a couple hours to complete but everyone had arrived safe and sound at their new home. To contact Sandy: [email protected]

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