Raising a single child is a challenging task in itself, but imagine taking care of 47 little ones – it seems like an impossible feat. However, this amazing mother goose is handling it like a pro.
Mike Digout has been taking regular walks along the Saskatchewan River since the coronavirus lockdown started in Canada.
Over time, Mike Digout developed a fondness for observing the local wildlife along the Saskatchewan River during his frequent walks. Among them, one particular goose captured his attention.
Mike Digout found joy in observing the local wildlife, especially the geese mothers taking care of their goslings. However, one day, he noticed a mother goose with an unusually large number of babies. Upon counting, he found out that she was in charge of 16 goslings.
Upon returning to the river the following day, Mike Digout was once again amazed to find the mother goose with an even larger brood of babies than before. He counted a staggering 47 goslings in her care.
On the following day, to Digout’s amazement, the mother goose was taking care of 30 goslings. The day after that, her brood had increased to a stunning 47 goslings.
The mother goose’s massive brood of 47 goslings was not due to an unusually large number of eggs she laid. Rather, it was the result of a phenomenon known as a gang brood.
Gang broods occur when geese take on the responsibility of caring for goslings that belong to other parents.
Digout observed that 36 of the goslings chose to stay with the same mother goose at night instead of returning to their own mothers. This indicates that the mother goose had adopted these goslings and was caring for them as her own. It’s evident that she is a great mother and is willing to take on the responsibility of raising additional goslings.
Initially, the 36 goslings who chose to stay with the mother goose would gather under her for warmth during the night.
As the goslings grew, they were no longer able to fit under their mother for warmth at night. However, they continued to huddle together for warmth while the mother kept a watchful eye on them.
By mid-June, some of the goslings had become more independent, but 25 of them chose to remain close to their mother.
In the beginning of July, Digout provided a final update on the goslings, reporting that the ones raised by the mother goose had grown so much that they were now difficult to differentiate from the other goslings in the area. They had become self-reliant and were almost fully developed.
Mike Digout’s perspective on geese has completely changed after witnessing the amazing feat of a mother goose caring for her 47 goslings. Prior to this experience, Digout was not particularly fond of geese.
Michael R. Conover, a professor with over 25 years of experience studying Canada Geese behavior at Utah State University, has discovered some interesting facts about why some geese form gang broods.
According to Michael R. Conover, a professor at Utah State University who has been studying Canada Geese behavior for over 25 years, gang brooding is a skill that geese seem to learn as they raise more and more babies.
In fact, “only 29% of geese raising broods for the first time formed a gang brood versus 80% for geese with 5 or more years of experience.”
As geese mature and gain more experience raising their young, they tend to engage in gang brooding to share the responsibility of parenting with others.
Were you aware that geese have the ability to adopt babies and create their own daycare system in nature? If not, now you know!