It’s the middle of the night along Sligo Creek and a mother Canada goose is resting atop a clutch of eggs. The first of several raccoons sneaks up.
Papa Goose chases the intruder away.
The determined raccoon returns with reinforcements! I partially hide my eyes behind my fingers as I watch 12 hours of the first night of wildlife camera footage captured by our favorite new gadget. I’m afraid of what I might see next. I’m already distraught by the sudden and unexplained disappearance of another mother goose two weeks ago. Won-ok and I have been checking in on our newest Mama Goose friend every day, making sure she’s ok but also knowing it’s not our role to interfere in the laws of the jungle — or of Sligo Creek. Still, I’ll be sick if something bad happens to her or her soon-to-be chicks.
The two masked marauders inch closer to Mama Goose. Papa Goose puffs his chest and scares them off without even flexing his wingspan that could reach four to five feet. Mama Goose isn’t small, either. Geese often engage in assortative mating, choosing mates of a similar size.
I thought it was a striking coincidence that the pairs of mating Canada geese I’ve been observing have been fairly close to the same size. When they mingle in small groups, I’m often able to recognize which pairs will be together when the groups part. Definitely not a coincidence.
I wonder if the parents are going to get even a moment of rest, or a chance to snag a late-night snack. There’s plenty of grass and skunk cabbage nearby. Unlike so many invasive species that are taking over Sligo Creek, skunk cabbage is a Maryland native species. The food supply and immediate access to the water are two of the primary reasons this mother goose chose this spot for her nest. Mama is the one in charge of sight selection and she does the building — adding some warm, comfy feathers after she lays her first three-inch-long egg.
The raccoons still aren’t done. Are Mama Goose and her clutch going to survive the night? Mama Goose is fierce, but am I going to retch on my computer? Watch our latest video and find out!
For more on the Canada geese reproducing along Sligo Creek this spring, check out the Mama Goose Series section of our website now and over the course of the weeks and months to come.