Orphaned Gosling Taken Under the Wing of a Recovering Canada Goose

By Kelsey Kuhnhausen, Communications Coordinator

Canada Geese are great parents. Oftentimes in the wild, paired Canada Geese can be seen caring for up to 25 young, fostering goslings from different families along with their own. However, finding a family for an orphaned gosling is not always easy. Geese only foster young if they are the same age and size as their brood.

When an orphaned gosling and injured goose came to our Wildlife Care Center within days of each other, our staff knew that fostering would be the best case scenario for both animals. Since the goose didn’t have any young of her own, we were hopeful that this pair would bond and aid in each other’s recovery.

In early March, the adult Canada Goose was brought in to receive treatment after getting hit by a car. Shortly after, the Care Center received a report about a gosling that had been separated from its family. After repeated attempts at reuniting it with its family, the gosling wasn’t able to keep up and was abandoned. A good Samaritan brought it into our Wildlife Care Center in hopes that it could be released into the wild.

“This gosling is about 2 months ahead of schedule,” said Lacy Campbell, Wildlife Care Center Manager. “We don’t usually see them until the end of April or beginning of May.”

Because goslings imprint on humans so quickly during their first several days of life, our Wildlife Care Center staff knew that the sooner they could introduce the goose and gosling, the better.

“If young animals imprint on people they become non-releasable. They’ll follow people around, rely on them for food, and they will not be able to survive in the wild,” said Campbell.

With that in mind, Care Center staff were careful to minimize human interactions with the gosling and quickly setup slow introductions with the goose and gosling to ensure the safety of both animals.

“First we placed the gosling in a container that was completely closed so the goose didn’t have access. From there, we put them in a space where they could see each other,” said Campbell.

“Once we saw that there was no threat to the gosling, we started supervised visits where the goose and gosling were allowed to be together without humans. We remained outside the enclosure to be able to intervene if necessary.”

The gosling and goose took to each other immediately and soon they were put in the same space overnight. The next morning when staff went to clean the enclosure and weigh the animals, the gosling was curled up under the goose’s leg.

We’re so happy to report that with a little luck, good timing, and responsive care, these two have formed a strong bond and are helping each other progress and heal in the Care Center. The gosling has no signs of human imprinting and is learning from its new mentor, who is also showing positive signs of recovery. The goal is to release the two animals together in the wild.

Every year the Wildlife Care Center treats 3,000 injured or orphaned native animals. If you would like to make a donation to support our wildlife rehabilitation work at the Wildlife Care Center, click here.