A man was sitting by a riverbank in Saskatoon, Canada when he spotted a very unusual sight. A mother goose and her partner swimming along with their little goslings. However, it was clear that they had quite a large brood – 47 goslings in fact!
Mike Digout could not believe his eyes. 47 little ones with their parents, it was definitely a once-in-a-lifetime sight. At the time of the spotting, Mike was out searching for beavers to photograph. But what he ended up finding was probably much better.
When Mike first spotted the family, the two goose parents were herding 16 little goslings – a number that he was already quite surprised by. However, as he continued to observe them, he had no idea that the number was about to become more exponential.
Each evening since he met the goose family, Mike returned to the riverbank in search of the geese and their goslings. Rvery time he saw them again, it seemed as though the mother’s family kept growing.
Then came the night when Mike counted not 16, but 47 little goslings following the mother. It was a very jaw-dropping revelation. He couldn’t help but share his discovery with his followers on Facebook.
After taking a picture of the goose and her babies, he uploaded it to social media with the caption, “This is a long line of goslings. It keeps going; and going; and going …”
While the goose might have been a super mom with so many kids trailing after her, the number is actually due to what is known as “gang brooding.” This phenomenon is a result of two or more geese coming together to blend their broods. Essentially it is collective parenting.
The mother goose with the large number of goslings is pretty much just a babysitter for other geese moms while they are getting some time to themselves. Gang brooding definitely shows that these geese know that it takes a village to raise their young.
Mike continued to watch the family and managed to get some really precious shots of the family together – particularly the goslings snuggling up beneath the mother’s wings. The pack was quite large and as Mike observed, by the time there were 25 babies trying to get up under her, she had almost been pushed six inches off the ground.
Throughout his time watching the geese, Mike was constantly entertained by their antics. The large family would often go for walks as well as swimming lessons together. It was particularly sweet to watch as the baby geese learned how to dunk themselves underwater without toppling over. But the sweetest thing was that after all their activities, the family would cuddle together.
Once the goslings grew bigger, the brood then began to split into three different factions. While the mother goose might not be caring for 47 little ones anymore, she’s still got a pretty big number on her hands to care for: 25.
Canadian geese are known for caring for their young until after their winter migrations. Following the springtime migrations, the females will remain with their broods while the males leave. The mothers won’t leave their goslings until they’ve fully grown and are ready to leave the nest.
Mike has definitely gotten a lot of enjoyment out of watching the family grow, and the pictures he’s captured are simply precious. That mother goose definitely deserves a shout out for all the hard work she put into 47 little ones! That is one mother of the year!
Anastasia is an American writer and journalist living in Dublin, Ireland. Her Twitter is @AnastasiaArell5.
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