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Starving Baby Goose Falls in Love with His Rescuer

Starving Baby Goose Falls in Love with His Rescuer
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Editor’s note: This post is a Care2 favorite, back by popular demand. It was originally posted on May 6, 2013. Enjoy!

Written by Cheryl Bernstein (Gauteng, South Africa)

It was a hot summer Sunday and my husband and I decided to take our two grandchildren with their bicyles for a ride around our local lake.  Of course, a visit to the lake wouldn’t be the same without taking brown bread and feeding the multitude of ducks and geese that inhabit the lake and its island. There are probably around 200 geese and ducks at the lake. They are all hungry, surviving only on the grass that surrounds the lake.

Once a year there is a massive cull of these geese, but they soon recover in numbers in the spring.  My two grandchilden, armed with their packets of bread, began feeding the geese and were soon overwhelmed as the birds left the water and surrounded them, squaking and grabbing bread out their hands. Then, in the midst of all the noise, feathers, ducks and geese swimming about, swam a tiny, yellow gosling.

He could not have been more than two days old. He was desperate for something to eat and tried to grab a crumb or two of bread from the water, but the adult geese would have none of it. They pecked his tiny head and some even tried to push his head underwater. He tried to get away and climbed out onto a rock. I walked down to the water’s edge and grabbed him. Immediately, he put his tired little head onto my shoulder and closed his baby eyes. He was exhausted.  I felt his crop and it was empty. His tiny body was just skin, bone and fluffy down. This baby was starving.

My husband, the children and I decided to walk around the lake and look for other families of geese who had goslings to which this baby may belong. We walked and searched in the reeds for about an hour, eventually realizing this baby was abandoned and alone. We decided to take him home and raise him.  I made a gruel of finely grated carrots, carrot tops, celery tops, mashed duck pellets, crushed fresh corn and water, but the gosling didn’t recognize this as food and would only eat tiny crumbs of bread. This isn’t a balanced diet for a water bird.

I had done some years of bird rehabilitation in the past and I knew how to tube feed a bird, so I found the bird hand rearing mixture and tubed him. I then put him in a basket with a hot pad, and he fell asleep, cuddled on top of a fluffy toy I had given him for comfort.

On many bodies of water, there is conflict between geese and humans.

The days passed in a blur of feeding, talking to and raising Goose. I put him in a big wired pen and my other two ducks and my three dogs took a great interest in him. I sat with him for hours talking to him and pointing out juicy patches of grass to him. Goose grew big and stong, started eating on his own and his fluffy down was soon replaced with magificent white feathers. His voice grew from a squeek to a squak and I watched with pride, as he developed into a beautuful bird. The intention was always to release him back onto the lake.  But as time passed, Goose fell in love.

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8:42AM PDT on Oct 19, 2014

thank you for posting

3:57AM PDT on Aug 31, 2014

love this story :) thanks for sharing :)

3:18PM PST on Dec 27, 2013

This is such a sweet sweet story and thats a fine duck:) U did the right thing...Happiness is always first we have enough to be worried about.....

7:13PM PST on Dec 20, 2013


11:59AM PST on Dec 10, 2013

A very nice story Cheryl, thanks for sharing it. Never mind Jennifer's rant, you did a good thing. It's certainly a shame you weren't able to return Goose to the wild but he has a safe, comfortable home and some "barnyard" friends with which to live out his days. Great job.

6:12AM PST on Dec 10, 2013


1:11AM PST on Dec 10, 2013

My comment is for Jennifer G. My name is Cheryl, I am the author of the story of Goose, and proud of my actions and what I wrote. I found your comments uneducated, sad and depressing. If people "keep sending you these stories" its your right to not read them if this is your knee jerk reaction to them. Your comments were hurtful and written with lack of knowledge of rearing wild birds or of the situation I found myself in that day. I didnt write a "cutsie" story to get attention- I did it because its interesting, an act of pure kindness and selflessness, and in a world filled with hatred and cruelty, its heart warming to read a happy ending in a world where there are so few. It took months of my time to rear this one goose, and was an act of love on my part. Out of almost 800 positive comments received here, yours was the only comment filled with hatred and spite. Do you see anything wrong with that picture? I have been doing bird rehab for over 30 years and tubing a baby bird is neither cruel nor painful. From the moment I make the decision to take care of Goose he was fed a balanced and nutritional diet for water fowl, but failed to recognise this as food at first, nor in truth did he eat anything for a long time, until, in desperation to keep him alive, he was tubed a handrearing mixture of bird food. You didnt read my article properly, you failed to understand the deeper meaning or consequences of this save, failed to judge my utter selflessness and what I did, in an appr

9:07AM PST on Dec 9, 2013

I wish people would quit sending me these stories. I am glad people care but I really wish people would seek competent help when they find an injured bird. Ducks and geese are precocial and self feed they should not be tube fed. How awful stressful and painful for this baby to be put through tube feedings when he could eat on his own right from the egg if only fed an appropriate diet.

Secondly BIRDS DO NOT EAT BREAD. the people feeding bread are the reason there is too many birds there to support the food supply. These people are part of the problem not part of a solution. Not to mention bread is one of the main causes of health problems in birds from these locations.

Thirdly what would be really great is if instead of just nonchalantly blowing off the fact the birds are all killed if someone actually cared about that and did something to stop it instead of writing up a cutsie story to get attention for themselves.

The whole thing about the plan to take a domestic animal she raised as a pet and DUMP HIM back at the lake almost give me a coronary as is this practice of abandoning domestic animals in the wild is somehow ok when its not. There is no excuse for raising an animal and "setting it free" Its not ok when people do it to dogs and its not ok when people do it with ducks.

If you have a friend who rescues birds please do them a favor and dont send them this link.

7:22AM PST on Dec 9, 2013

What a happy story. So glad he was safe from being culled.

5:05AM PST on Dec 9, 2013

Yes well I wish the Parks Board would stop culling the geese and ducks each year and use more humane methods. Unfortunately we live in a black run country in South Africa with very little compassionate rights for people, let alone animals. I am afraid the water fowl will be the losers every time.

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