This is a young Canadian goose very happy to be playing outside during daily enrichment. He came into New England Wildlife Center as an orphan 4 weeks ago. He needs more time, roughly 4 weeks, to develop his primary flight feathers and start looking like an adult, with the traditional black head. As he gets ready for release, we will be observing him to make sure he is able to eat on his own, swim, preen (waterproof) his feathers etc.
A fun fact about Canadian geese is that mother geese will readily foster babies of the same size as their own. Dr. Mertz recounted a time where 14 goslings followed mom in an orderly line as she led them to a local pond. A normal clutch for Canadian geese is 2 to 8 eggs, which means she had picked up quite a few orphans. Mom is able to care for so many babies because she isn’t responsible for feeding them directly, rather she teaches them how to find food. Canadian geese are not the only animal to do so, Barn owls, some species of hawk, and Mallard ducks are known to readily foster babies as well.