Monday, June 03, 2013


Gosling Watch

I spotted the first goslings on May 11 and over the last 19 days of May, I saw six different clutches in various locations, and at various times of the day.

The table below shows the eight locations on my regular hike where I saw the goslings with their parents. From left to right, the locations in the table go west and upstream.

Location 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
Thu 30 6PM 9
Wed 29 5PM 5
Sun  26 12PM 5,3
Sun 26 10AM 7,4,3 
Thu 23 4PM 3
Wed 22 9AM 3 5 8
Tue 21 4PM 5 8 3
Tue 21 10AM 8,4 3
Mon 20 6PM 4,3,3
Sat 18 9AM 8 4
Fri 17 4PM 7,5,4
Mon 13 5PM 5 5
Sun 12 4PM 5
Sun 12 9AM 5
Sat 11 10AM 5

May 13
The reported average clutch size is 5 to 6 with a range of 2 to 11. I saw families with 3 (two families), 4, 5, 8, and 9 goslings. I think the seven I noted on May 17 must have been the family with 8.  The sighting on May 26 is also likely this same family and either I miscounted or by then one gosling had died.  

During April, I saw up to three times as many adult pairs at each location. Most of the pairs did not nest. Perhaps they were juveniles. Perhaps they there were infertility issues.  

Since May 30th I have seen few geese at all and no goslings. 

May 17
May 17
May 17
Generally, I learned that the adults kept the goslings close to the original nest site for the first week and then they visited locations both and up and downstream from the nesting site.

May 17
May 17
May 17
While nesting, the adults were generally very noisy when I came close to the sites, but after the goslings hatched, the adults were quiet. 

May 17
May 17
When I was close, the adults routinely led the goslings from land onto water, or if on water, the adults led the goslings downstream. If the current was strong, the adults led the goslings to the furthest shore and hid them in grass by the edge of the river.  

May 18
The goslings always stayed close the mother and the father was usually within about five meters.  
May 20
May 20

May 20
With time, some of the families were tolerant of my presence and did not relocate when my presence was detected.   

May 22
May 22
May 22
The goslings grew quickly from week to week and within three weeks they started to look like small geese. This presumes the clutch of five noted on May 29 was the same as the one noted on May 11. 

May 29
May 29
The goslings will fly at about 9 weeks and will stay with the parents until the next spring.
May 30

May 30


The Atlas of Breeding Birds of Alberta. Federation of Alberta Naturalists. 2007.

Baicich PJ, Harrison CJO. Nests, Eggs, and Nestlings of North American Birds. Princeton UP. 2005.

Beadle D, Rising J. Sparrows of the United States and Canada. Princeton UP. 2003.

Fisher C, Acorn J. Birds of Alberta. Lone Pine Publishing. Edmonton. 1998.

Sibley David A. The Sibley Guide to Bird Life and Behavior. Alfred A Knopf, Inc. New York. 2001.

Tudge Colin. The Bird. Crown Publishers. New York. 2008.

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