by Carl Strang
Humans are not the only beings that experiment. When wild animals try new things, however, sometimes they are gambling with their lives. A clear example of this was provided recently by a Canada goose pair at Mayslake Forest Preserve. For some days in early to mid-March, this pair always was to be found at the stream corridor marsh. That can indicate an intention to nest, but that marsh has no island. Canada geese generally nest on islands, and for good reason. On March 22 I spotted their nest.
The nest was on a platform, a horizontal slab of wood extending from a fallen, rotting willow stem. It was 3 feet or a bit more above the ground.
By the following Monday, March 26, the female was incubating.
This was a risky decision, necessitated by the limited number of suitable nest sites in the area. Mayslake has a very competent pair of coyotes, and coyotes are capable both of leaping up 3 feet and of killing an adult Canada goose. There was a chance that the nest might escape notice, or that the elevated location might give the incubating female a chance to escape should the coyotes attack. On Wednesday, March 28, it was clear that the gamble had failed.
Two eggs remained intact in the nest.
Such a small clutch suggests that this was a young, inexperienced pair. The eggs may provide a meal for the coyotes, should they return, or perhaps for the raccoon that frequents that marsh’s shore. The surviving mate will need to find a new partner and try again next year.