Jim Williams has been watching birds and writing about their antics since before "Gilligan's Island" went into reruns. Join him for his unique insights, his everyday adventures and an open conversation about the birds in your back yard and beyond.

Canada Goose nesting; photo of embryo

Posted by: Jim Williams under Bird biology, Nesting Updated: April 3, 2012 - 10:07 AM

A Canada Goose pair are nesting beside the swampy pond in our backyard. Last year a pair of geese built a nest atop a crude nesting platform I had anchored mid-pond. Seven days into incubation the pair left five eggs exposed, flying off and not returning for five cool days and cold nights. They returned -- the returnees looked like the nesters -- just after I had taken the eggs from the nest, assuming they were no longer viable. I broke one egg, using a knife point to tease the embryo from the yolk sac. A photo of that is below. Development of the gosling was proceeding at a rapid pace. The goose would have been on the nest for about 28 days to complete incubation. Counting begins with the laying of the final egg. The photo shows development then of about 25 percent. This year a nest was constructed in long grass and brush on the far side of the pond. The bird (photo) began incubation on March 31. One day the bird was busy with construcrtion, two days later she was sitting. Eggs are laid at approximately 35-hour intervals. Usual count would be two to eight eggs. I have no idea how many are in this nest. The nest appears vulnerable to mammal predation, but I assume the geese know more about nesting than I do.

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