With temperatures rising and the sun (kind of) shining, it would seem that spring has finally sprung! With spring comes new life in many forms – wildflowers are blooming and trees around campus are finally leafing out. My favorite spring emergences, however, are the baby Canada geese (Branta canadensis) emerging from their nests after hatching. A controversial choice, perhaps, as many find the incessant honking and hissing of the geese to be annoying. However, in my eyes, the goslings that emerge during Spring Term make it all worth it. Lyman Lakes is chosen year after year by mating geese as a nesting ground, as ideal nesting areas for Canada Geese offer concealment near water – places such as islands, muskrat houses and behind vegetation along shorelines. Nesting typically begins in mid-March through April during the mating season, and eggs hatch 25-30 days after they are laid.
As for how to identify and spot these goslings, they look quite different from their mature parents, as Canada goose goslings have yellowish-brownish down feathers. These goslings can often be seen near and around Lyman Lakes in groups of 2-8, feeding and swimming with their parents. These goslings are almost always with their parents, as Canada geese mate for life and help to raise their young. While the goslings are still young and unable to fly, the parents are vigorous defenders of their young. Many students may have experienced this by looking at the goslings for a bit too long while walking to Goodhue. Luckily, however, the goslings will be able to fly within 2-3 months, and they will only stay with their parents for the first year of their life before branching out on their own. By the end of the term, the goslings will grow quite a bit, so make sure to keep an eye out!
- Cassie Cunniff ‘23, for the Cole Student Naturalists