Saturday, April 3, 2010

Mother Nature Surprises Us

There are signs of spring popping up everywhere here in Chi-town.

Last Sunday, Iwanski and I started out on our typical long weekend walk and were meandering across the Dearborn Street bridge. We were gazing down at the lovely Chicago River, sparkling in the sun, when suddenly I noticed that there was a goose sitting in a planter on the riverwalk, with another goose standing nearby.

“Do you think she laid her eggs in that planter?” I asked Iwanski.

“I don’t know,” he replied. “That would not be the best place for a nest.” (It is the riverwalk, after all—people walk down there often—and restaurants sometimes set up shop there during the spring and summer.)

It was hard to tell. Maybe the goose was just resting there momentarily.

This past Wednesday night, the temperature was a beautiful (and unseasonably warm) 75 degrees, and I said to Iwanski, “Let’s go take a walk and see if the goose is still there.”

So we walked over to the bridge and looked down on the riverwalk…and sure enough, there she was! Sitting there in that same planter—obviously sitting atop her eggs—with her mate swimming nearby. We were both surprised that they were still there.

We watched as a few people walked by her nest, and her neck swung out toward them as she let out a loud “hiss!” (It startled the people, who hadn’t even noticed that she was there.) But her mate barely moved—even though I could tell he was watching closely. I thought that was pretty interesting, and Iwanski speculated that perhaps she was defending her eggs from potential predators up there, while her mate was defending them against a water attack. Who knows? Perhaps her mate just didn’t take the people seriously.

The next day, Iwanski came by with his camera and took this picture of them.

We’ve stopped by and visited “our geese” a few times since then—and they are always in the same spot—although sometimes the male is away for a brief period of time—presumably looking for food.

“I wonder how long before her eggs hatch?” I asked.

“I don’t know—we’ll have to find out,” Iwanski said.

When we came home, we found out our answer, along with some more interesting facts about Canadian geese (from and For example:

--The gestation period for Canadian geese is 28-30 days. (I can’t wait to see those adorable little goslings!)

--They tend to nest on the ground, usually on a muskrat mound or other slightly elevated site, near water. They prefer a spot from which they can have a fairly unobstructed view in many directions.

--When egg laying begins the "Father" goose will stand sentinel watch nearby, but not so close as to give away the location of nest to a predator. (So that may explain why he didn’t react too much to the people—potential predators—passing by.)

--Geese mate for life and will stay together during all seasons.

--Geese will find a new mate if their mate dies or is killed.

--Geese return to the general area of their birth each year to mate and nest. Sometimes to the exact site, sometimes to a nearby pond or other body of water. (So we might see their “kids” there next year!)

I, for one, was fascinated to learn all of these things about our new neighborhood friends…and in a few weeks, I hope to see their little ones peeking out of the nest.

I love springtime…and even though I love living in the city, with its tall, impressive buildings and trains and museums and taxicabs, I’m also very grateful that there is still plenty of beautiful nature surrounding us.


Sling said...

Okay,..,that's totally cool right there!
We have an abundance of Canadian geese here,but no way can we get that close.
I know you'll keep us posted on the progress of the little ones. :)

Daisy's Mom said...

Ever since the "I want you men to kneel in this goose poop while I take your picture" episode, I have a hard time finding a soft spot in my heart for our Canadian feathered friends.

How many years has it been? 14?


that is so cool...and i just figured out what my problem was..should have married a goose.

Anita said...

What a fun sight! I can't wait til you post more pictures.

Buck said...

Hey! In two weeks, we could harvest their eggs and make Balut!
Ya wanna?

Buck said...

Or, whenever the goose hisses at you, just say, "Orange sauce."

Mom said...

How fun!
Last year a robin built a nest in a planter by our front door. It was such a thrill to watch the eggs hatch and see the chicks. I felt sad when they flew the nest.

sageweb said...

Oh very cool..I hope Iwanski sets up a post for the next 28 days so he can capture the hatching.

Random Thinker said...

Brave geese. I hope the city doesn't come along to plant in that box before she hatches her little ones.

Maria said...

Take some photos of the wee ones, yes?

Daisy's Mom said...

Buck, have you been to the Philipines?

Buck said...

Daisy's Mom - - No, I've never been to the Philippines, but I have tried a balut egg. It tasted like a very rich egg with a hint of chicken liver. I blogged about it here, complete with photos!