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The Weather Network
Jul. 7, 2020 | Tuesday
Editorials and Opinions
Opinion: Sailing club’s Embden geese and the circle of life
Embden geese have taken up residence near the NOTL Sailing Club. (Melanie Morris/Submitted)


Upon our return from the warm south this spring, we were excited to discover what appeared to be two surviving Embden geese nesting in the thicket outside our window near the NOTL Sailing Club.

This triggered many questions for me. Who are these geese? Last year’s goslings who were hatched late summer 2018? Could they be old enough? Surviving adults, of which I believe there was only one? Who is/are the father(s)? The bereaved gander, unlikely to mate so soon after his tragic loss and who appears to show little interest in the nest? A Canada goose? No gander seems to be “standing guard.”

Since they were on the nests when we arrived home, how many days left before we could experience the loud and joyful honking that would announce the successful addition to the family, closing an unfortunate chapter in the lives of these geese and opening a new one?

We have since observed that there was only ever one nest. Both females appear to be last year’s goslings as evidenced by the remaining brown coloration on their wings. Little sister seemed to stay close to her nesting sibling.

Honking cries from the direction of the lake often signal the nesting geese are upset and facing a potential crisis. That is what happened one afternoon when we looked out our window in response to such cries to see one of the nesting geese in the sailing club waters frantically trying to get back to her nest presumably after a short respite to eat and bathe. She was on the other side of the fence from her nest and couldn’t find her way back.

I had seen her there previously but the rising waters have reduced the passageways through the six-foot fence between the water and the bank. She used to be able to slide into the water from the bank and swim under the fence to the river but now, with the rising river waters, there is no space under the fence.

She appeared not to be able to fly over the fence nor find a route through it. How she got there in the first place is anyone’s guess. She kept swimming up and down in front of the fence, hopping onto the dock, hopping off again, frantically honking.

At one point, it looked like the Embden gander was leading her toward the river to go around the fence to get on the other side, but she didn’t follow him to the end and turned back.

We went down and opened the fence gates in two places and she finally walked through one of them, muttering under her breath in a clearly negative manner. The peace had been restored.

Sadly, for reasons unknown to me, on May 14 mama goose suddenly left the nest for frequent and extended periods. Upon checking the nest, there were five whole, unbroken eggs abandoned. The next morning I could see that some hungry mammal enjoyed a meal through the night, which brings our hopes for a rejuvenated family of Embden geese in NOTL to a crashing halt – for the moment, at least.

We are back to our usual suspects since Christmas, which form our secondary extended family of geese after the colony of Canada geese and include three Embden, one Greylag and one Canada goose with a wonky wing.