Of Geese & Goslings

Why does it fall so heavily to ducks and geese to feed the rest of nature’s hungry kingdom?

Goslings! Their location on the beach was surprising, but now it all made sense.

For weeks prior, two adult Canada geese had been carrying on loudly from atop several very tall, brush-covered promontories, roughly eroded vestiges of an ancient volcano. From a taller lookout nearby where I could glass down on them with binoculars, I had seen eagles circle and even on occasion land very close to the honkers, which protested ever more loudly, but didn’t budge. And now I knew why.

The Canadas had hatched a brood in what I would consider a terrible location: flightless hatchlings lucky enough to survive the eagles’ interest would face a precipitous leap of at least 100 feet to reach the rocky beach below. While it was grand to discover the goose and gander caring for two adorably cute goslings, I realized that two meant four or five or six siblings (because geese typically lay and hatch considerably more eggs than two) had not survived the daunting challenges their parents had set for them. That’s obviously not a great ratio of success, and the two remaining goslings were not (as the saying goes) out of the woods yet, not by a long shot.

But paddling about in tide pools filled with fresh water from a stream flowing across the beach toward the salty ocean beyond, the proud parents seemed unperturbed in the slightest. Leaving only me, I suppose, to wonder how it falls so heavily to ducks and geese in particular to produce cavalcades of young, only to see most of them disappear, one by one, to feed the rest of nature’s hungry wild kingdom.

Little did I know I was destined for a decidedly déjà vu moment when — seven years to the same month later at the same spot on the same beach — I would encounter a family of Canada geese again. Is it possible they were the same proud parents, seven long years later? CLICK HERE to view my video of that encounter, and judge for yourself.


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