Nesting Goose Pair Brings Joy to Assisted Living Residents - Iowa Wildlife Federation

Nesting Goose Pair Brings Joy to Assisted Living Residents

Photography courtesy of Lowell Washburn, all rights reserved.

The wait is over.  The hatch is on.  Newly emerged broods of baby Canada geese are appearing on wetlands across the state.  And although the annual renewal of life should bring joy to all who witness it, perhaps no group has been more thrilled by the sight of newly hatched goslings than the residents of Clear Lake’s Apple Valley Assisted Living. 

Success – Apple Valley Canada geese escort their day-old goslings across the water. Since 2009, a total of 52 goslings have been produced by two female Canadas. The first female [identified by her leg band] lived to be at least 12 years old and produced 46 goslings while at Apple Valley. When the goose failed to return in the spring of 2017, she was replaced by a second female. The “new female” is also banded and was hatched in 2014. She has successfully nested at Apple Valley during each of the past four years. Her mate [also banded] is at least five years old.

The nesting geese first made their appearance at Apple Valley in 2009 when a pair took up residence at a small pond on the facility’s west side.  Nesting at the water’s edge, the pair was successful in producing five young.  The geese were fortunate on the attempt since marauding raccoons often destroy ground nests.  Fortunately, there was an easy fix.  To protect future nesting, Al Hancock and I installed a predator proof over-the-water nest structure during the winter.  Returning in the spring of 2010, the geese immediately took to the nest and the structure has produced goslings every year since.

A female Canada goose incubates this year’s clutch of eggs at Apple Valley Assisted Living.  Since first nesting in 2009, the Apple Valley geese have produced 52 goslings.

For Apple Valley residents, it was love at first sight.  From the time of the adults’ noisy arrival at winter’s end, to when the newly hatched goslings successfully jump to the water, the goose nest provides a continual and upbeat topic of conversation. 

Guard Duty — While his mate sits on eggs, the gander stands vigil from the Apple Valley rooftop.

But as is the case at all assisted livings, this spring has presented Apple Valley tenants with some unprecedented challenges.  Sheltering in Place — there have been no visits by friends and family, no communal worship services, no outside entertainment.  Good news has seemed in short supply.  Consequently, it came as no surprise when news of hatching babies was announced last Friday, that the event seemed to create even greater excitement than usual.  Maybe the endearing sight of those proud parents guiding their brand-new brood of fuzzy goslings across the water provided a much-needed symbol of Better Days Ahead.

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