It’s hard to believe what we saw young geese do from an apartment rooftop in West Vancouver. Though we and our friends watched these goslings for a couple of days, we were not ready for their subsequent actions, which at that time seemed quite bizarre.
Early this spring, we were luxuriating in our friends’ apartment overlooking Stanley Park, the Lions Gate Bridge and English Bay. Among other things, we watched some geese—seven young ones and two parent Canada Geese—for a day or two. Although we could see them with our naked eyes, we used a high-powered telescope our friends had set up in their apartment.
Initially, all we saw were the gander on guard like a sentinel and its mate flying from the highest part of the nearby apartment and down toward the water. When it returned, there were two adult geese on guard. At first, we didn’t know what they were guarding, but we surmised that they had nested way up on this building and were looking after their young.
So the next morning after breakfast, when we looked out onto the apartment in question, we noted that the two adult geese were now standing on a lower roof on this apartment. By mid-morning the brood of young goslings were now in the picture, having somehow been moved from the higher rooftop to this lower roof.
Fascinated, we took turns watching the little yellow-feathered creatures march up and down the edge of the roof and sometimes rush into a corner, cowering down as if under siege. This partial rooftop was about five storeys from the paved street below, and we were now watching them from slightly above. Every ten or fifteen minutes, one of the parents would fly off for food. Upon their return, we expected they would feed the goslings, possibly by regurgitating food, but that never happened.
It was nearly noon on our second day of watching when both parents left their young family and flew down to the pavement directly below where the little ones were milling about. We couldn’t see where the parent-geese landed, but we sensed they were on the pavement and looking up. We had no idea what was going to happen!
Suddenly, my friend Cece shrieked and cried out that one of the goslings had climbed onto the narrow ledge and fallen to the ground below. Because of the trees and shrubs lower down, she couldn’t tell where it hit, but she was horrified at the likely result.
Then one after the other the goslings jumped off the roof and seemed to drop like rocks to the street-surface below. These youngsters were not very old and had not yet developed enough feathers for flying, so they plummeted like dive bombers to the pavement below. Because of the shrubbery further down, we couldn’t see the final crashes to the pavement.
We were aghast, looking around at each other and trying to guess what happened. A suicide pact? A freak of nature?
Urgently, we left our building and ran across the street to see if we could help any that were injured—or simply to see if they were dead. We thought we might push the bodies into the nearby bushes and perhaps clean up the area.
However, we found nothing — no crumpled bodies, no blood splotches on the pavement, and no injured goslings half-dead in the nearby bushes. Nor were the adults anywhere to be seen. The entire family was simply gone.
I have a picture in my mind of the parent-geese waddling down the lane toward Ambleside Park followed by the seven goslings. From our vantage point, we hadn’t been able to see that happen, but nothing else makes any sense.