The day was Monday, May 11, 2015. Springtime, right? I was up early, and when I first looked out the window this is what I saw: the endpoint of an overnight snowstorm, some five, maybe six inches of heavy wet stuff. Looked like the middle of January out there, and certainly not like a happy time for springtime’s nesting bird life.
A few hours later the temp had climbed into the low forties, and the clouds had begun to break up, revealing this view of the Front Range where, according to reports, as much as two feet of snow had fallen.
The following day, the PM temps returned to the low seventies where they typically reside this time of year. That afternoon, we decided to take a walk around the local lake, see if we could again spot the Canadian Goose family that had been busily exploring its corner of the lake during the week before the storms came. The photo below was taken on May third, very near the day the goslings first left the nest to explore their new world.
So on Tuesday the twelfth we returned to their corner of the world and eventually spotted the mating pair of Canadians (Branta canadensis) relaxing near the shore of a small island that lies about a hundred yards out. They were, as usual, in the company of the only remaining pair of Chinese geese (Anser anser domesticus) in the lake’s current goose colony.
In the photo above, note the absence of goslings — they were nowhere to be seen, which is most unusual as the days approach the middle of May. Where were they? Normally if they were nearby, either the Canadian mating pair or the Chinese geese would be supervising, watching carefully. Such was clearly not the case, so the first assumption was that something had gone awry. Were they victims of the sudden snowstorm? The recent weather had certainly been goofy enough to be assumed a possible threat to days-old chicks. Or maybe a fox stopped by? Or a cougar? Dog? Feral cat? Take your pick. One thing I did notice — later in the day while reviewing the above photo — was what appeared to be a battle wound of some sort on the neck of the white Chinese goose:
Chinese geese are a popular domestic breed, well-known to be an efficient watchdog that is typically very noisy when anything unusual is around. In this local semi-wild setting, the two of them are always and invariably in the company of their Canadian ‘friends.’ They are, in fact, extremely protective of Canadian goslings. They seem to watch from a distance, but whenever another critter pops up in the neighborhood (humans included) they immediately start honking loudly as they hurry over to offer whatever help might be needed. My first glance at the neck wound above, therefore, definitely made me wonder if maybe the goslings had indeed “gotten got” by one or another of our furry critter locals. The odds against them being somewhere — even in the nest — unsupervised are quite high. Dare we hope? In any case, time will tell if they’re still around or gone for good. We do intend to keep a close eye on the situation and will report back if anything happens to pop up.