Mike Digout was never a massive fan of the Canadian geese who live near his home, but his views certainly changed this Spring after he got to know one incredible mother goose with an unusually large family.
Mike has been taking regular walks along the Saskatchewan riverbank since he began working from home and often brings his camera to capture some of the beautiful wildlife who live there. That’s how he came across the remarkable family of geese.
“I was out every night walking on the riverbank looking for beavers and, of course, there was a lot of geese activity as they were coming from the south and looking for a place to nest,” Mike said.
“It got to be quite entertaining to watch the geese fighting over places to nest and protecting their nests.”
Mike noticed the first lot of goslings had hatched in May.
“They’re so cute when they’re little — like little tennis balls with legs,” Mike said. “So I started taking pictures of the goslings while I was waiting for the beavers to come around.”
One evening, Mike noticed a mother goose with a remarkably large group of goslings in tow.
He counted 16 fluffy babies as they started to crawl under the mother goose’s feathers to go to sleep for the night.
“I was stunned that this mom had 16 babies, so I started going back every night looking for this mom and her goslings,” Mike said. “And every day it seemed like she had a bigger group.”
One day, Mike counted 25 goslings. The next day he counted 30, until one day he counted 47 babies! That’s when Mike realized the amazing mama was caring for goslings from multiple different families.
Known as a ‘gang brood,’ this practice is not uncommon in suburban areas where there are many nests.
Gang broods begin to form when patient parents, such as this amazing mother goose, start to babysit each other’s babies.
“It was incredible how calm she was with so many goslings around,” Mike said. “She seems like such a patient mom.”
The babies are growing up fast, and can no longer all fit under their mama’s wing. Now they sleep in a huge pile which the mother goose watches over protectively.
The group has since split into three families, but the incredible mama is still taking care of 25 babies.
Along with her mate, she will continue to keep them safe until it’s time for them to fly south.