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Goose Family Finds a New Home at Duchess Sanctuary

A family of Canadian Geese has found a new nesting spot at our Duchess Sanctuary thanks to an innovative new wildlife project

  • Mama, papa and baby geese enjoying a swim in the pond together. Jennifer Kunz/Duchess Sanctuary

  • Two cormorants and an egret enjoying the perches on one of the floating platforms. Jennifer Kunz/Duchess Sanctuary

  • A large white egret surveying the pond from one of the floating platforms. Jennifer Kunz/Duchess Sanctuary

  • Close up of the nesting platform. Jennifer Kunz/Duchess Sanctuary

  • Mama goose eyeing us suspiciously as she protects her eggs on the nesting platform. Jennifer Kunz/Duchess Sanctuary

Although the only official animals at our Duchess Sanctuary are horses, the sanctuary is actually home to scores of native wildlife. That’s why, for the past few years, in collaboration with the HSUS Wildlife Team, we have undertaken numerous wildlife projects with the goal of making sure we are living in harmony with our wild neighbors. Previous years have seen us set up wildlife trail cameras, install fence crossings and develop springs.

As Duchess Sanctuary is home to birds of all shapes and sizes, our latest project involved building two floating platforms for the largest pond on the property—one as a nesting platform, the other with perches for raptors and other large birds to sit on.

Once the project was completed, we watched with baited breath for its first visitors. The first real action we saw was the passing through of some cormorants in January. They enjoyed a few days fishing in the pond, and would perch on the island to spread their wings, allowing them to dry while they bobbed up and down in a hilarious dance. Around that same time, a large white egret appeared on the scene, claiming one of the four posts for himself.

But what we were really waiting for was to see if a pair of Canadian Geese, who had raised their feathered family at Duchess for the past four years, would use the nesting platform for this year’s brood. We waited with anticipation to see if the mama goose would like the floating island where her nest would be safe from most predators.

It was with some excitement we spotted her out there in late March, carefully preparing her spot, and then laying her eggs. Days passed and we waited impatiently, impressed by her dedication to hours of stretching out flat over her precious eggs. Her mate stayed nearby, though we never saw him on the platform once the eggs had been laid.

Finally, in late April, Jennifer Kunz, director of Duchess Sanctuary, got a happy surprise on her morning trip to the pond.

As I neared the pond, I found the pair of them standing upright on the platform. As I crossed the dyke to get a better look, I watched them hop off into the water, followed by two tiny yellow fluff balls. The goslings had arrived!- Jennifer Kunz, director Duchess Sanctuary

Everyone at Duchess Sanctuary was incredibly pleased with the success of this year’s wildlife project. But we are especially excited to watch the wee babies grow over the spring and summer as they have in past years, and look forward to seeing them fly for the first time.

Happy stories like this would not be possible without your continued support. Please consider making a donation to Duchess Sanctuary so we can continue to care for all the animals, horses and wildlife alike, that call Duchess home.

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