Thursday, April 17, 2014

The family unit



Goslings have an excellent chance of survival.



The parents mate for life, and raise them in tandem. When Dad eats, Mom keeps watch. When Mom eats, it's Dad's turn. For the first year, it's like a goose-mafia -- all about the family.



At The Huntington, we lose about 50-75% of the ducklings, as duck-parenting is a casual affair. Mom has her eye on a handsome mallard, while Dad goes surfing. But most goslings thrive, reach maturity, and return year after year.



Though we humans may think geese lack something in potty deportment, their kids learn at a very early age to mind their manners, walk the line.



And never, ever sass Mom.

30 comments:

  1. too cute but I was once chased by a goose as a small child and threw my cup cake in the trash to divert my assailant's attention......something you never recover from.....I've heard some awful things about mallards from a nature-loving friend including violent attack and rape!!!!

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  2. I remember when I had a mama and daddy quail in my yard... I've got pics of daddy pacing back and forth while mama was busy laying the eggs... similarities abound!.

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  3. Interesting and all news to me. I steer clear of all foul due to some baseless fear of chickens as a child. I do like cows, though.

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  4. And they are fiercely protective!

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  5. An irate goose is a fearsome thing. It is no wonder the survival rate for goslings is good. Two items gleaned from the web:

    So, why do we never hear about these wonder guards? Well, we do. In 390 B.C., two geese alerted Rome to an impending Gaul attack, potentially saving the city from destruction. For generations after, the event was commemorated by having a pampered goose watch the city’s treacherous guard dogs get crucified. In modern times, too, these super-birds have their uses: Chinese cops in the Xinjiang province use them to guard police stations, while at least one Brazilian prison has them patrol the grounds in case of a mass breakout.

    Scotch Watch is the nickname given to the gaggle of guard geese at the Ballantine's bonded warehouse in Dumbarton, Scotland.

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  6. So, you're saying the geese are like me, and ducks are the ultimate party animals. Good to know. I was chased by a swan as a child, so while they're beautiful, I steer clear. And I'm not fond of the goose droppings; they do make the sidewalks ice-like slippery.

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  7. The geese at The Huntington grew up among scads of humans, so they're totally unconcerned by our presence. Unimpressed might be more apposite.

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  8. For Marjie--You are a lucky one. The lovely swans have a nasty habit of killing those who bother them, usually by drowning, but I suppose they can accomplish their intent in other ways too. I am fascinated by birds, but having been attacked by a diving Tirrick and bonked by a Bonxie [Shetlandish for Arctic Tern and Great Skua, respectively] in northern climes, I sometimes think Hitchcock got it right.

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  9. Wonderful photos!
    I haven't seen any babies here yet, but they should be around soon.

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  10. I had a pair of geese when we lived on the farm. The female was the noisiest of the two. Whenever anyone pulled into our driveway, she'd follow the car up to the house and honk wildly, although never try to attack. We started calling her our Farm Alarm. Oh, and the term "loose as a goose" caught on for a reason. Their potty habits are the kind that make you bury your head in your hands and mutter, "Seriously? You just did that?"

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  11. Do these geese migrate or just stay around here year round? I have a Facebook friend who lives by a creek and pond in Oakhurst. She has a family of Canada geese there that don't seem to migrate, unless you call spending part of the time at the golf course nearby migrating. There seem to be about 3 generations now. The original parents chase the kids off when they get older. Sometimes, migrating geese descend on the pond and hang out with the local geese. On those occasions there can be about 30 geese there. The mom makes her nest at the top of a huge boulder. About a day after the babies hatch, the parents lead them to jump down off the rock. A bit of a dangerous way to start life, seems to me. What if human babies had to jump out of hospital windows?

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  12. Mr. Earl, the human race would be a lot fitter, genetically, if babies had to survive jumping out of hospital windows a day after birth! The resident Canada geese at Descanso raise a litter a year, but out of 5 goslings, they're usually left with two - the coyotes pick off the rest. Mum and Dad can only effectively defend a gosling each. I'm happy to hear that they're safer at the Huntington. So fluffy and cute!

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  13. They're migratory, Earl. When the weather turns consistently hot, they head for the Pacific northwest. And yes, The Huntington parents are very wise. Well, first of all, they chose The Huntington. And secondly, they keep their clutch always in the shade, and the parents tend to show themselves in the sun, which discourages the smaller predators. Adult geese only have one major predator, and that's the coyote.

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  14. These geese let me get up quite close, even though they were suspicious of some other people. Perhaps this is why:

    "Goslings are very quick at learning to distinguish between people they trust and people they should stay away from, and may even learn to bond with the visiting human if they encounter him or her often. And you don't need food to build a relationship with them. This is also where the interesting part comes in -- if a 5-year-old person bonds with a gosling and then parts ways with it ... the adult goose will still recognize that person at age 10. Geese have a very good memory, and are quite capable of distinguishing one human from another." Wiki

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  15. I guess WE could learn a lot following these mating habits.

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  16. Karin, do you know where their nest is?

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  17. I was gonna ask if this was at your backyard at home or the Huntington. Geese: Beware of Coyotes!

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  18. Potty deportment! I've been hissed at by mom--or was it dad?--but so far not attacked, which I hear can happen. And they do make a mess. But when I hear, then see, the flight of their team up there in a lopsided V, I'm glad to have them around.

    Excellent bits of info from everyone. And let's not forget Yeats' "Leda and the Swan"!

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  19. They fly through our neighborhood. Well, maybe not the babies.

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  20. Beautiful photos, Karin!
    What a lovely family!

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  21. Sweet, sweet, sweet!!! Another reason to love the Huntington!!!

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  22. BTW...@Young at Heart... I've been witness to the dastardly deeds of the Mallard mating ritual...amazingly brutal!!! Made me wonder how the ducks survived as a species!!!

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  23. Well, that could explain the parenting issues in the duck family.

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  24. I've seen bunnies at the Huntington. But never geese. How wonderful.

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  25. The goslings are so fluffy. Nice to think they may recognize you years from now.

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  26. I went back and checked on your anti mountain PSA - dang Patch for not letting all the comments come through

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  27. I know, pity. You baited those guys, mercilessly.

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