Canada goose sits on burning nest to protect eggs

A Canada goose mother bravely sat on its six eggs while its nest burned. Photo by Tim White used by permission
A Canada goose mother bravely sat on its six eggs while its nest burned. Photo: Tim White

A mother Canada goose that bravely sat on its six eggs in a nest that was deliberately set afire has been deemed healthy enough to someday be released back into the wild after it was rescued by a wildlife specialist in Erie County, Ohio.

Tim White, wildlife specialist for Erie Soil and Water Conservation District, was walking back to his car with his daughter after finishing some paperwork at the office Sunday following church when he noticed smoke coming around the corner of the building.

Checking it out, they discovered a Canada goose sitting on a nest that was on fire.

“It wasn’t blazing like a bonfire,” White told the Sandusky Register. “You could see a little blaze around the nest.”

White and his daughter raced back into the office, gathered water sample buckets used for a local stream testing program, filled them with water and put out the fire.

“She was doing the motherly thing,” White told the Sandusky Register. “She was very protective of those eggs. She took the brunt of the heat and the fire.”

The tail and flying feathers of this Canada goose mother were burned by a fire deliberately set in her nest. Photo by Tim White used by permission
The tail and flying feathers of this Canada goose mother were burned by a fire deliberately set in her nest. Photo: Tim White

White said he found cigarette butts in the nest, evidence that the fire was deliberately set. The Erie County Sheriff’s Office and the Ohio Division of Wildlife are investigating.

“In addition to losing all her flight and tail feathers she also singed her tongue,” Heather Yount of Back to the Wild rehabilitation center in Castalia, Ohio, told WTVG of Toledo on Thursday. “We believe she was trying to put out the fire herself on her feathers.”

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The Canada goose is being given daily shots of antibiotics to prevent infection and five of the eggs, some with scorch marks on them, were placed into an incubator at the Back to the Wild rehabilitation center.

Five of the six eggs, some scorched by fire, were put into an incubator. Photo by Tim White used by permission
Five of the six eggs, some scorched by fire, were put into an incubator. Photo: Tim White

On Wednesday, Dr. Jamie Lindstrom of Animal Clinic Northview determined there was no lasting damage to the Canada goose’s feather follicles, and new ones will grow back when it naturally molts this summer.

On Friday, Yount told GrindTV in an email, “There is a possibility that the fire damaged the eggs beyond repair and they may not hatch, but we are not giving up on them. We will be incubating them for the remainder of their incubation period to make sure we give them the best chance possible.”

If they do hatch, wildlife officials will attempt to reunite them with the mother and release them together into the wild sometime in the summer.

“At this time, we also have Canada goose eggs that were orphaned,” Yount told GrindTV. “Geese are great moms and will often adopt babies that are not theirs, so if she accepts her own offspring back, we may also add in the orphans so they can grow up in the wild with a wild Canada goose. Growing up wild is the best thing for them.”

Canada goose mother was deemed healthy enough to be returned into the wild sometime this summer. Photo from the Back to the Wild Facebook page
Canada goose mother was deemed healthy enough to be returned into the wild sometime this summer. Photo: Back to the Wild Facebook page

“At the very least,” White told GrindTV in an email, “she should be well enough again after a bit to have another go at raising a brood should none of the eggs hatch…

“Just glad I happened to be where I was at that opportune moment!”

h/t to The Dodo

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