Saturday, May 13, 2017

The Goslings' First Significant Weather Challenge

Less than a week old, the goslings face their first weather challenge today.
Mama Greta protectively keeping her babies close.
"It's a great big, scary world out there!"
Goslings in a row.
The four little ones follow Mommy, while Daddy anchors the back.
Not even a week old, the four tiny goslings of Hansel and Greta are forced to face their first significant weather challenge today.

A "Nor'easter" is hitting New York City, bringing with it, heavy, drenching rains, high winds and cool temperatures.

Already the family has suffered loss of one of their goslings shortly after hatching. Though generally a safe location, the Central Park Reservoir is not without hazards and potential predators as represented by jagged, sloping rocks, rough terrain, snapping turtles and the occasional hawk. Last year, Hansel and Greta similarly lost one of their goslings in the first days of life.

The babies are particularly vulnerable when so tiny and frail. Lacking waterproof feathers, they are covered in fluffy down that does not adequately protect them from the cold and/or heavy rain. Usually, when weather is harsh, the Mother goose tries to shield her little ones under her wings until conditions improve. The problem is, that the rains forecast for today are not supposed to let up until tomorrow morning. That, and potential flooding could pose special challenges for the new goose family.

I am, needless to say, hoping for the best. Hansel, Greta and their new babies have already become park favorites among many of the visitors to the Reservoir. Not a day passes that I don't encounter people eagerly photographing and following the new family's every move.

Canada geese are one of the few wild animal species who appear to welcome, rather than shun, human interest in their young.

Unfortunately, such trust and openness with humans hasn't always served the geese well, considering the capture and slaughter of thousands of them and their goslings by USDA "Wildlife Services" in recent years.

Still, not to be maudlin and overly glum, I am reasonably hopeful that Hansel and Greta will figure a way to get through the storm safely while fully protecting their little ones from harm.

Nature may not always be kind, but with a little adaptation and ingenuity, she is usually survivable.  

Let's hope that tomorrow's Mother's Day brings with it, not only sunshine, but victory and joy for all of our new goose family's members. Today is only the first of many hurdles the new goslings will have to face over the coming months. 

Call the Nor'easter, preparation for life. -- PCA


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