About a month ago I mentioned that the Canada geese were beginning to pair up and defend their territory in anticipation of the breeding season. The following day I posted a series of pictures in which the male Canada goose (Branta canadensis) of a distinctive pair at Baum Lake seemed to be defending his territory and mate against an intruding male. The female’s limp makes the pair easy to identify.
I finally got back to Baum Lake the other day. Yes!! The “limping pair” now has a nest with three eggs. The nest is located amid tall grass on a bank overlooking Hat Creek near Baum Lake. I feel like an expectant mother! How exciting!
The female Canada goose selects the site and constructs her nest – a large, open cup on the ground built from grass and lined with down and some contour feathers. The female adds the down and feathers after the first egg is laid. The preferred site for the nest is in a slightly elevated area with an unobstructed view in all directions. After 25 to 30 days the two to eight large white eggs will hatch. So about four weeks from now I need to see what happened to this pair’s clutch of eggs. Hopefully there will be some fluffy, yellow chicks.
The female incubates the eggs while the male guards and defends his mate. During the time when the female is incubating her eggs she loses her flight feathers and cannot fly, making it even more important for the male to protect her.
At Baum Lake elevated nesting platforms, most of which are constructed of halved barrels, provide safe sites for Canada goose couples to incubate their eggs. Whether the female has built her nest on the ground or on the artificial platforms, the males are nearby patrolling the area.
These pictures were all taken at Baum Lake (Shasta County CA). In one, a female Canada goose is plucking down and adding it to her nest. I watched this female for about a half hour as she feathered her nest. A single egg is visible under the female on the other platform. She too was plucking down and arranging it around her egg. And the nest with three eggs is on the ground and belongs to my special couple. They are a little further along than the other two pairs. As I walked by the limping pair moved into the water and swam about watching me. I quickly determined that there were eggs in the nest, took a couple of pictures with a 200mm lens without getting very close and immediately moved off. From a distance I could see the pair return to the nest almost immediately. I hope to watch this pair raise their goslings over the summer.