Pictures of Birds: Photo Journal of a Breeding China Goose
Following a breeding Chinese Goose
This photo journal documents the fortunes of a China goose and her goslings. On the Leeds to Liverpool canal, near Bingley in West Yorkshire a female China goose has gone wild. Perhaps she escaped from a local collection, but she now lives with a large flock of wild geese on a greenfield site called Greenhill.
She was seen mating with a big white Embden goose early in the year, so it was no surprise when she appeared late in March with seven (7) lovely little goslings. Two days later, she had nine (9), two days after that, eleven (11). It was becoming clear she was part of a goosy threesome, one male with two females. When the China goose's eggs hatched, she moved out of the nest and the second female took over sitting on the remaining eggs. As each, seemingly pair, of goslings hatched and were ready to leave the nest, they joined the China goose and the big male helping to protect them. On the final day, the second female appeared and between them then had... wait for it... 20 goslings.
This is her story.
The value of observation
If ever there was something to encourage me to 'watch' bird behaviour it was this little goose. It was only by spending time on the bank over a period of time that I was able to unravel what was actually happening. It took time to reveal that she was part of a goosie threesome - with an alpha male, she as the alpha female and a subservient beta female. As forcefully as in any pack this alpha demonstrated her superiority at every turn. She was very much the one in charge.
So my advice is to get in the habit of going to the same spot on a regular basis and spend time getting to know your birds and their routine.
Learning to be a goose
Baby birds learn by example and these little guys are no exception. It is intriguing to watch the adults - first of all take them to water. That is usually the second day after they hatch. The adults will lead them down then take to the water and encourage the little ones to jump in. They also show them the best way to get out of the water. I watched one gosling fail to jump high enough to get out of the water. The adult male came along and dipped his head just behind the tail of the chick over and over until it reached a lower point in the bank and could get out more easily. Who says they have no intelligence?
They show their youngsters where to find the best food and how to strengthen their wings. These geese don't ever fly far so I have never seen flight lessons unlike Canada geese who are avid flight instructors.
Geese and gosling pictures
Pictures of birds
China or Chinese Geese
They are called both. The China goose is a domestic variety of goose with origins back to the Swan goose. They are mainly white, brown or grey although you can get pure white ones. What is distinctive, is the beautiful brown stripe down the back of the neck. Chinese geese also have a knob, like a mute goose, at the base of the beak on the forehead, although this particular goose doesn't seem to have one. It is generally more evident in the male anyway. They aren't a particularly heavy bird and this one is considerably smaller than the male Embden.
In this little family, there are two goslings with black beaks and they are considerably darker than the others. It will be exciting to see what colouring they end up with. The adult female has an orange bill with a black nail at the tip.
All the adults are fiercely protective of the young, keeping them close and often keeping them between the adults. The Chinese goose is even more so. What is also interesting to note, is that most of the goslings go to her to brood, even those evidently not from her own eggs. Perhaps this is because she is the dominant female, perhaps because she is the one that first took them from the nest. It had been said geese mostly bond to the first legs they follow, how true that is, is uncertain.
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A word about the gosling pictures: All the images used here are by AnnMackieMiller and are copyright 2011. This mean they cannot be copied without permission. The images used are deliberately low resolution copies to discourage theft. High resolutions, electronic, copies are available to use on websites and blogs for a small fee. They cannot be used on print-on-demand cards and photo gifts, that right is reserved to the photographer.
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