Canadian Geese choose nesting site at Whitby town hall


Published April 17, 2024 at 3:58 pm

Whitley the goose has settled in to her nest at the Whitby Town Hall.

Whitby Town Hall is set to be the first home for a few newly hatched goslings as a mating pair has chosen the building to nest.

The town announced the new arrivals on April 17. Town staff have named the female Whitley. Similar to the Peregrine Falcons at Lakeridge Health Oshawa, Whitby has set up a “goose cam” with a live feed to YouTube where viewers can get a look at Whitley and her coming goslings.

Whitby is also running a contest related to guessing Whitley’s hatch date. The closest guess wins a mystery Whitby prize pack. Participants can submit their guesses online.

Canada Geese mate for life. However, when one partner dies the other will find a new mate. The female lays between two to nine eggs each mating season, averaging around five. She’ll then incubate the eggs for 24 to 32 days. In the meantime, the male spends most of his time away from the nest though he remains nearby on guard.

Once the eggs hatch, the goslings are immediately able to get around and swim. However, they won’t be able to fly for some time. This period often overlaps with the parent’s summer molting season leaving the family earthbound for a few weeks. As such young goose families are often seen walking in a line with the parents at either end.

The gosling will grow their flight feathers (or begin fledging) between six and nine weeks old. Though they can fly after that they will stay with their parents for about a year until they return to Canada after the winter migration.

Canada geese are fiercely protective of their young and will chase off anyone or anything who gets close to the nest, eggs or goslings. They’ll first hiss at the intruder before launching a vicious assault of bites and wing slaps. Goose attacks have resulted in broken bones and head injuries, per Geese Relief.

For the safety of both residents and the geese, the town advises visitors to give the nest a wide berth.

The geese were considered extirpated (or no longer in Canada) about 50 years ago. However, they’ve seen a major population resurgence after more protections were put in place. Their natural adaptability and ability to live alongside humans in urban environments have accelerated the rebound. There are now about 7 million geese across Canada and the United States.

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