Spring is often associated with Easter holidays and the arrival of Springtime and with both events, our social media is filled with pictures of cute little baby ducklings and bunnies. As wildlife lovers, we shiver to think of the well meaning parents who gift these babies to their family and children as domesticated pets! So let’s turn our attention to an April-May fledging bird that is never treated as a family pet – the baby goose – but is just as cute as their seasonal colleagues. Ever thought about how many of our colloquialisms involve a goose reference?
While you’re outdoors this spring, take a gander at the wildlife. If the fresh air inspires you, go off on a wild goose chase but be careful that the creatures from The Mother Goose Tales are not lurking about. If you do see the big bad wolf, run for your life but don’t be a silly goose and stumble and get a goose egg on your forehead!
Young birds before fledging are called goslings. The collective noun for a group of geese on the ground is a gaggle; when in flight, they are called a skein, a team, or a wedge; when flying close together, they are called a plump.
Goslings, unlike baby mammals, are self-sufficient within days of birth. What does that mean? It means they self-feed, walk around and swim in water without help from Mom and Dad. However, they do follow their parents around and still require body warmth. They are clumsy and fall a lot, so goslings can easily get separated from their gaggle. If you see a gosling without Mom and Dad around, you should assume they are abandoned and call WRL Helpline for advice.
Jill Spohn, a WRL transporter, got the chance to transport two goslings from Pender Vet Clinic to Felicia Schwenk, our WRL go to rehabber for ducklings and goslings. Per Felicia, rehabilitation for goslings goes very quickly. They spend 2-3 weeks outdoors in Felicia’s backyard and then transfer to another DGIF rehabilitator or Wildlife Center who has a larger outdoor facility where they spend a few more weeks before they’re ready for freedom. FYI, because they are migratory birds, the young goose can be released near any body of water and does not need to go back to the original rescue location.
Jill Spohn volunteers as a WRL Transporter. She is a bird enthusiast and volunteers as an Audubon at Home Ambassador helping people create wildlife habitat on their property and is a Fairfax Master Naturalist.
Felicia Schwenk is well known for her work with ducklings and goslings. She is currently pursuing a new initiative to create a release program in 2021 which pairs her goslings with foster goose parents in stress-free water habitats around the Northern Virginia area. See the companion article in this newsletter for more information.