I just got back from a scenic drive in the countryside. My destination? A wildlife rehabilitation centre. The cause? This:
Meet the reason I stopped traffic last night. I call him Gregory (as in Gregory Peck). This day-old Canada Goose gosling was dashing madly about in the middle of a busy road, separated from his family and in an absolute panic. Cars were whizzing past as he scampered about, unable to make it over the cement curbs. I watched in horror, envisioning a gosling pancake! Thankfully another motorist and I managed to corral the little fuzz-ball who despite his age and size could run at a lightning speeds reminiscent of the Road Runner of Bugs Bunny cartoon fame. When we finally nabbed him I was the one who ended up taking him under my wing (pun intended).
With Gregory tucked inside my shirt, I searched high and low around the nearest pond, thinking I'd find his family. No luck. I took him home and secured him in a cat carrier, then went back and searched again. Still no luck. Given it was late in the day, it appeared that Gregory was destined to be my overnight guest till the wildlife centre re-opened in the morning.
In a phone conversation with the wildlife centre, it was suggested that I put him outside in the sunshine for a while in a sheltered, grassy area of the yard with a shallow dish of water so he could eat some grass, have a drink, and recover from his traumatic first day of life. I have a dog x-pen that I set up on the front lawn and placed him inside, watching for a while to make sure he couldn't squeeze through the wire.
Then I went off to do a few things. I moments later I glanced out the window and what did I see? Wee Gregory Goose was on the loose, headed across the street! He'd made a grand escape and was heading for freedom. Why did the gosling cross the road? Who knows, but thankfully I live on a dead-end street with little traffic. I raced outside and once again chased him down, scooping him up before he could make his get-away. I placed him securely back in the cat carrier with a handful of grass and a little dish of water. He'd have to make do.
After a night in the cat carrier, snuggled in an old fleece blanket (now in the laundry; who knew a tiny bird could produce so much poop), this morning Gregory was delivered into the willing arms of a shelter worker who assured me they had a foster goose on site who would take care of him and raise him to be wise in the ways of his own kind.
And so another episode in the life of a bird loving artist comes to a satisfying conclusion. This isn't the first time I've stopped traffic for baby birds or gathered up an apparent orphan, nor will it be the last. Birds such as the Canada Goose are common and not always appreciated due to their habit of congregating (and pooping) in parks and on golf courses. However to me a young life is a young life, and if I can help I will. This particular experience has definitely given me new meaning for the phrase "wild goose chase".
Good luck, Gregory!
Note: If you come across a baby animal in distress, re-uniting it with its family is the best course of action. Failing that, contact a wildlife rehabilitation centre for advice.