Monday, 2 May 2016

Greylag nursery

 Many Greylag geese pairs in our large local park have now young goslings. Although geese can be quite intolerant of each other at the start of the breeding season, now the families join together in an area of grass by the lake forming a large nursery. These behaviour might allow them to better detect and defend young from predators. Goslings are precocial and once dry after hatching they can feed by themselves straight away. In the few hours that the goslings spend on their own with their parents they imprint on them and will follow them everywhere. Both parents tend their young by fiercely protecting them from potential predators, hissing or chasing them away, while the goslings feed or rest quite oblivious to their parent's nervousness.
Goslings seek warmth under their mother's wing. Only females are in charge of brooding the goslings in their first few weeks, when they are still unable to regulate their body temperature.
 Despite geese being quite accustomed to people in the park, they still fiercely hiss even as they are being fed. We noticed that pairs differed on how nervous they were. In one of the pairs, the female, instead of hissing, uttered contented calls while she fed and the male didn't hiss at all, despite their goslings being very close to us.
Two families with females brooding young (on the left) and males stand guard.
A group of five goslings follows parents.
Two very nervous parents defending their only young.

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