Friday, May 20, 2011

Apparently this is the Spring of Me Rescuing Birds

So, last month there was the grebe that crash landed in the middle of a Chicago street that I rescued and got to a wildlife sanctuary where it was given medical treatment and rehabilitated.

Then this week there were the baby geese that were stuck behind the chicken wire.

So I'm chasing this little bird around (the guy on the fence post, not the geese in the background) when I notice... hey there's a pair of geese in the background!  And at this time of year, where there's a pair of geese, there's frequently baby geese.

And sure enough.  These particular parents had a set of triplets. Aren't they adorable?

But then I notice that this one is behind the chicken wire fence.  Now I know most of the chicken wire fence around the South Pond is to keep people on the paths and off the plants.  But right here, there's a goofy comma shaped section closed in between the path and the pond.

Two of the goslings had gotten into that comma shaped area.  Momma, Poppa and one of the babies were on the outside of it, with a clear path down to the water.

The ones to the right of the fence... I don't even know how they got in there.  About two feet across, at the back of the section, the fence is underwater.  I couldn't find a gap anywhere that would explain how birds that can't fly yet got into this space.

At this point I stopped taking pictures, in fact, I set all my gear down to figure out how to get all the geese back together.  Unlike a mother mammal, geese don't have the instinct to 'scruff' their young and move them.  All they can do is herd them and trust the small one's instinct to stay close to the parents.

In this case that was actively working against them.  As I got close the parents crowded up against the fence and began to hiss at me.  They never honked and they never flapped at me or tried to charge me. And believe me, Chicago geese are afraid of *nothing*.  Certainly not people.  I have to think they understood I was trying to help.

For about half an hour I tried to lift the fence (it was nailed down too well) or find the opening they'd used to get back there in the first place (I still don't know how they managed it.)  But when the goslings tried, repeatedly, to shove themselves through the chicken wire to get back to their parents, I knew I needed to do something.  They could get their heads and necks through the holes, but clearly couldn't get their tubby little behinds through a roughly one-inch diameter hole and they'd thrash when they got their heads stuck.

So I stepped over the fence, to the parents' great displeasure, and herded the goslings up to a corner of the space they were stuck in and one at a time picked them up and put them back down, right in front of mama.

Now, I know some people hold on to the old wives' tale that if you handle a baby bird, the parents will smell 'human' on it and reject it.  I've done enough reading to know, a bird's sense of smell is garbage and their need to take care of their young is very, very strong.  In my reading about song birds falling out of the nest, they said to pick it up and put it back in the nest if you can.  So in this case, picking them up for the three seconds it would take to get them back where they could rejoin their families was certainly not going to be an issue.

So I did.  I got them back over the fence...
... where Momma and Poppa herded everyone together and back down to the water...
Where they set off for the island in the pond where there's none of that pesky chicken wire to separate them.

So that puts my bird rescue total for the season at three.  Wonder what it'll be by the fall? :)


  1. Wow! Very cool! Good for you. I wouldn't have known that about handling baby birds. Gosh but they are adorable.

  2. Thanks! Like I said before, I'm doing a *lot* of this stuff lately, so I've been reading up when I can. :)