Canada Goose Creche


As I mentioned in a previous post, when in close proximity, Canada geese (Branta canadensis) goslings will form large groups. These nursery groups, or creches, provide protection for the chicks (safety in numbers) and teach them how to work as a group (important during migration). Usually one pair tends the crèche while the other parents remain nearby. I always think of a crèche as the Canada goose version of a play date.

Recently at Baum Lake (Shasta County CA) I photographed a crèche that contained goslings of different ages. On the left are the oldest chicks, the youngest are in the center of the group and to the right the chicks are slightly older than the youngest ones. This crèche moved onto the water, and as they swam I was able to count seventeen goslings in the group.

I thought this was a good illustration of how different Canada goose clutches combine to form a crèche. Since the goslings are different sizes, they cannot have come from the same nest.

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5 Responses to Canada Goose Creche

  1. Pingback: Another “Last” Picture | The Nature Niche

  2. Marion Ambler says:

    It was interesting to read this. I live in Vancouver, BC where we have a year round permanent resident population of Canada geese. Their population has been fairly humanely managed with egg addling…but now they nest where they can’t be found like on roof tops. So we had about 35 goslings this summer….and for the first time we seem to have a ‘creche’. One family has steadily increased in size and now these parents have 28 goslings, of varying sizes. I have paid a lot of attention to our geese for a few years (love them!) and they have never done this before. I am wondering if they have decided that to survive in the modern urban environment they have to train their goslings like this? Our geese don’t migrate either. They are very smart adaptable birds for sure!

    I have a photo on flickr when they ‘only’ had 22.

  3. Karen Benjamin says:

    I found this so interesting and just today I took some photos of just such a creche along the Mississippi where my daughter lives. I’m going to try and send them to you.

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