Tuesday, 26 August 2014

How Do Geese Mate?

Ever wondered what the geese are up to? or How do Geese Mate? - Answers here in glorious colour

Watching the geese in the canal near my home throws up some interesting goose facts. These are domestic Embden geese who have gone wild and watching their breeding behaviour is fascinating. Here you will find original goose pictures showing their sometimes very loving behaviour with each other.

I love photographing birds, particularly the water birds. But equally, I am totally fascinated by bird behaviour and habits. I don't think I even noticed much of what goes on around me in the natural world until I looked at it through the lens of a camera. Now I am finding hereto unknown aspects to birds I never would have imaged.

For those unfamiliar with my work, I live near the Leeds to Liverpool canal at a site called Greenhill or Micklethwaite Wharf where there is a flock of resident geese. These are mainly Embden and Toulous geese with a couple of greylags and a China goose. The originals were probably escapees from local allotments that have been breeding here for many years. Sadly this site is under threat of development so it is especially important I am able to document my stories and images while I can.

Last year, there were only five gosling survivors on Greenhill, (you can see their story on Little Goosey Goslings), four of them being looked after by three adult geese. I assumed the adults were the parents and perhaps a sibling. Now I have know that isn't true. These were the offspring of a Ménage à trois! Read on to find out more.

Image credit: 'mating geese' by AnnMackieMiller, copyright 2011 - please do not copy or reproduce them. Thank you.


All images are original
AnnMackieMiller 2011
Please do not copy them

Pictures of geese

Wild Embden Geese - Greenhill Geese

Embden geese with goslings2010, was my first year as both a photographer and as an observer of wildfowl (water fowl) behaviour. The breeding season on Greenhill produced four lovely little goslings, one with a single parent and four with what appeared to be three adult guardians. I assumed it was mother, father and earlier sibling or aunt. I now wonder if I was right.
The three took their responsibilities very seriously and fiercely and very loudly defended the little ones from all comers.

[EDIT 2012 – from these early days I have learned so much more about goose behaviour. In fact, this is a threesome – two females to 1 male and is very common. You can read all about it in my article — > Goose Beheviour

Goose pictures: A Mating Display

Geese mating on water

Mating Embden geeseMost water birds mate on water. The first sign you will notice is when two birds start to dip their heads under the water in a mating display. So if you see birds on the water bobbing their heads, pay attention, you could be in for a water ballet display. Oh if you have the kids with you be ready with your explanations!

The following photo album shows you the display of one pair of mating geese. The geese do interlink their necks but obviously not so much as swans do.

Mating Geese

Click on the small image to enlarge it

Pictures of Breeding Embden Geese

The first goose eggs appear: 17th March 2011

Adult Embden GeeseThis pair of Embden geese produced eight or nine eggs in a nest close to the water edge on the opposite bank of the canal to the tow path. In this photograph one egg appears outside the egg but I don’t know if it was retrieved or taken by predators. While she was laying the large male stayed with her, nipping on her neck every time she moved. I was interested to note the nest was little more than a hollow lined with down from her underbelly. In subsequent days I have seen her building up the sides more, possibly for better protection and containment for the goslings.

The day after she laid the eggs, she appeared to be alone, but when she came over to me to feed, her calls were answered by the male. I could see in the field above the canal running to her call. He duly made him way down the steep slope that is covered with bushes, and in the company of a grey goose. This goose is much smaller than the two white ones, and clearly has some greylap goose in his lineage.

Since then the three geese are together. The female sits on the nest, the male chases off all and sundry including any other geese – except for the little grey goose. Interesting!

The male goose guards the female

The male goose guards the female

Little Grey Goose Companion

Little Grey Goose Companion

"Keep Off!" Goose in full Warning Mode

"Keep Off!" Goose in full Warning Mode

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