Monday, April 13, 2015

Goose Cam

In early April this year, I stepped out onto my balcony one morning and was taken aback by the Canada goose that perched on the edge, staring back at me.

Initially, not thinking anything of it other than "this is neat", I tried to shoo it away.

However, the goose came back several days in a row and decided to keep an unusually protective stance on my tomato planter.

A few days later, I discovered that a goose had decided to make a nest and lay eggs on my balcony!

I got in touch with the Wildlife Preservation Society of Edmonton, hoping that someone might be able to come and relocate the nest. The Wildlife Society's information along with the research that I had begun to do for myself led me to learn that Canada geese nests are federally protected under the Migratory Bird Act of 1918. There would be no moving of the nest, I'd be having a new roommate for the next month.

I soon set up a webcam so that myself and others could keep an eye on the goose and her eggs. I tweeted out to Global News and within a few hours I was being contacted by Global, CBC Radio, Virgin Radio and Sonic Radio who all wanted to have me on the air to talk about the goose! Here are some of the segments:

Global News
CBC News

In the following weeks, I decided to put a poll up on my blog where people could vote on what to name the goose. A number of popular names popped up including Gertrude, Bertha, and Juliet, but after nearly 1000 people voted, Lucy was ranked number one.

As Lucy sat, incubating her eggs, the webcam I had set up gathered over 40,000 views with people tuning in from over 80 different countries! Lucy became somewhat of an international sensation. I had people contact me to tell me they'd watch Lucy every morning before work. The kids in my mom's special needs class would have the webcam up during the day. Others would say how they'd check in on her each night before they went to sleep themselves. Although as expected, Lucy was very cautious and protective of her nest at first, she seemed to get used to the idea that she was not the only occupant of the building. Though my appearances on the balcony would be met with an initial "warning hiss", once she realized that I wasn't going to harm her or her eggs, she would simply keep a watchful eye out and would even pose for a few pictures with me.

After enduring a freak snow storm and putting up with the occasional magpie vandalizing her nest, Lucy's eggs began to hatch late in the evening of Saturday, May 9th. With the most amazing timing anyone could have anticipated, the remaining eggs were hatched throughout the night and by the following morning, which just happened to be Mother's Day in a large part of the world (including here in Canada), Lucy was a new mother to a full nest of little goslings!

For the next 24 hours, Lucy closely guarded her new babies and kept them warm while they began to chirp and pop their heads out through her wings. The father goose, who could be seen on the opposite roof for the last few weeks, eagerly watched as his young ones wriggled around their nest.
First thing the next morning, Lucy decided it was time to leave the nest and dove off the balcony, 10 stories down, encouraging her babies to follow suit.

Fearlessly soaring down 10 stories to the roof of the parkade below, the goslings were reunited with their parents and began to waddle around for the first time.

With the aid of the Wildlife Society, an attempt was made to capture both the adults and the goslings from the parkade roof in order to transport them all to a local park. The attempt proved not to be as easy as one might think however, and it was clear that the family was becoming very stressed with the male goose even flying away at one point. It was decided to leave them be for the time being so that they could regroup. Later in the afternoon however, a second attempt was made, this time to capture just the goslings and release them on the street level where the parents could easily fly down to. This effort proved to be successful and the goose family set off to began their own adventure.

Several media outlets picked up on the story once again and asked me to share my story:

CBC News
Global News
CTV News

Though it was an interesting and unique experience, it was also unplanned and unexpected. Having just moved into my condo last summer, this spring was my first goose nesting season and it had not crossed my mind that the tomato planter on my balcony could be chosen as a nesting spot. Unfortunately due to the federal regulations in place, there was nothing that could be done to move the nest once the eggs had been laid. The whole experience, while entertaining and while I'm glad is something I was able to share with the world, was also very educational, and it's with that in mind that I would encourage anyone with similar locations on balconies etc., where a nesting could occur, to cover or remove those options for birds during the spring nesting season, so that the birds may pick a more suitable location such as a tree.

I've learned a lot about geese throughout the last month and while I'm no expert, I've certainly been in touch with a few and can pass on any knowledge I've gained should you have any goose related questions. I'd like the thank the Wildlife Preservation Society of Edmonton as well as all of the helpful residents of my condo building and the surrounding buildings for all of their assistance.