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Mother Goose and 4 chicks jump safely from Times’ rooftop nest!

By Gary Bogue
Monday, April 4th, 2011 at 9:50 am in Canada Goose, Mother Goose.

Mother and Father Goose and 4 babies. (Gary Bogue/staff)
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WOW! I think I had almost as wild a day Sunday (yesterday) as Mother Goose and her 4 chicks did!

Holes started appearing in some of the eggs on Friday afternoon as the goslings starting pecking away trying to get out. I contacted Ray Saint Germain, our Senior Multimedia Producer, who set up the fantastic video cam that allowed us all to watch Mother Goose sitting on her eggs these last weeks, and alerted him about the holes. We both planned to monitor the nest via his cam over the weekend.

The last 3 eggs were infertile and didn’t hatch in rooftop nest. (Gary Bogue/staff)
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In the past, Mother Goose has always waited about a day after the last eggs hatched before coaxing her goslings off the rooftop and over to the office park pond next to our building. I figured we had until Monday before they jumped, but would keep an eye out to make sure.

By the end of Saturday, 4 chicks had hatched and it was starting to look like the last 3 eggs probably weren’t viable. Last year, 2 of her eggs didn’t hatch, so I wasn’t all that surprised.

Father Goose tells man with the cameras to “Back off, human!” (Gary Bogue/staff)
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Sunday morning,  about 8:30 a.m., the 3 eggs had still not hatched. It usually takes a day or two before instinct kicks in and Mom Goose realizes the eggs are no good and it’s OK to leave the nest, so I figured she’d jump with her chicks on Monday. Nope. When I checked my computer a few minutes later, Mother Goose and her 4 chicks were gone and it was just an empty nest with 3 eggs! YIPE!

Everybody likes grass for breakfast. Yummy! (Gary Bogue/staff)
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I ran out, jumped in my car and raced to the Times about 17 miles away. I ran upstairs and looked out the window to make sure they weren’t just hiding in a corner of the roof. Nope. All gone. So I ran back downstairs and out the door and through the parking lot, following the route Mother Goose has taken every year over the last 5 years.

Goose parents get ready to send chicks off for first swim. (Gary Bogue/staff)
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I caught up with them as they were almost to the office park next door. Father Goose had joined up with Mom and the kids. There is a nice artificial creek in the office park that meanders through the buildings and a nice little lagoon that Mother Goose uses to raise her chicks every year. I walked alongside, escorting them the rest of the way. They all, goslings included, started grazing on the lawn grass when they reached it, then down to the water for a little paddle. The goslings made a nice little flotilla in the creek, escorted with mom and dad on each side.

Then I jumped in my car and raced home again. In all the excitement and rush, I’d forgotten to bring my camera!

Mother Goose takes chicks for a swim while Father Goose stands guard. (Gary Bogue/staff)
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When I returned, I took the pictures you see here. A long, hard freaking day, but they all lived happily ever after. Even the stupid human who figured they weren’t even going to think about doing this until Monday. Idiot. Proving once again, by the way, that Canada geese are lots smarter than us humans.

Four baby goslings, off for a paddle. (Gary Bogue/staff)
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It was still a happy day, you know. Ray Saint Germain and I have now become uncles to about 34 baby geese over the last 6 years. HONK! HONK! /Gary

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12 Responses to “Mother Goose and 4 chicks jump safely from Times’ rooftop nest!”

  1. Glenda Leatherman Says:

    How far is it from the roof to the ground?

  2. Gary Bogue Says:

    Glenda: It’s about 10 feet. Chicks are very light and covered with spongy down which cushions the fall. They bounce like fuzzy yellow tennis balls.In last 6 years, 34 chicks have jumped and all landed OK.. But sometimes we columnists, reporters and editors from Editorial Dept. run around like crazy with outstretched blankets trying to catch them. The Press Department always parks one of their big trucks under the roof so they only have half as far to fall. A total Contra Costa Times Group Effort! Yeah Geese! /Gary

  3. Joann Ludwig Says:

    Well, Gary, after all the hoopla accompanying last years launch, I’m sure Mother and Father Goose said, never again! We launch when nobody suspects it’s coming from now on.

  4. Gary Bogue Says:

    Joann: We’ll see (Next year)! /Gary

  5. Monica Says:

    Wow! Nature’s truly magical—thanks for the amazing story/drama. Geese and success, such a combo—

  6. Marilyn Stollon Says:

    Ha! Outsmarted this year by Mother Goose! What a wonderful respite from all of the “other news” of the week.Thanks for the pics and story…and the beat goes on..

  7. Helen Freeman Says:

    Gary – thanks for the beautiful pictures.
    Sad, isn’t it, that we missed the big moment?
    Helen Freeman

  8. Darlene Says:

    Gary,
    Thank you so much for the wonderful story. I as well was sitting watching for the last month and watched as Mother Goose walked away from her nest with her 4 goslings, never to return.
    I was heart sick because I was not sure they all made it off the roof unharmed.
    Your story and pictures have warmed my heart. Thank you for all you do.

  9. MARGE ROBERTS Says:

    HI GARY,
    WHAT A DELIGHT. I’M THE AUNT OF JOE BOESSENECKER OF THE TIMES. HAVE BEEN WATHCING FOR TWO YEARS NOW. SO MUCH FUN. WHAT A WONDERFUL SITE. NOW AM WATHCING THE HUMMINGBIRDS, ANOTHER WONDERFUL SITE. GREAT WORK

  10. Margaret Says:

    Gary-
    My neighbor has a mallard nesting on his private roof top deck that is 4 floors high in some of his shrubbery. The chicks might be hatching soon and he doesn’t know what to do when she encourages them to jump. There is fencing all the way around the deck. However, that is a steep fall. We are in Chicago in Wrigleyville. Lake Michigan is quite a ways away for them to travel. Please advise. I have forwarded him wildlife links, etc… to ask questions and see if there is any advice for mom and babies.

  11. Gary Bogue Says:

    Margaret: 4 floors is way too high for those chicks to jump. I recommend gathering up the eggs and not allowing them to hatch. The chicks will never survive that far a drop. Also, based on past events of this type, there would be 100 percent mortality for any chicks that managed to survive the drop. On the ground, the chicks would be killed by cars, raccoons, skunks, cats, dogs, foxes, etc. They rarely make it to water. So the most humane solution would be not to allow the eggs to hatch and to shoo the mother away and hope she picks a safer place to raise another family. She will go find another spot and start all over again. I know this sounds cruel, but it isn’t. Letting them jump off the roof is cruel. The only other option … if there’s a wildlife rescue organization in your area, contact them and see if they will take those eggs, hatch them in their incubator and release them in Lake Michigan after they hatch and when they are old enough to make it on their own. Good luck. /Gary

  12. Diane Trenam Says:

    Gary -
    I read several months ago that CC Times had moved from the Shadelands building.
    Will we be seeing Mother Goose and her babies this year?
    Thanks, Diane

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