A Canadian Goose admitted to Harmony Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in October 2001, was recently released at her home in Middle Tennessee. The adult female came to HWRC with a badly broken leg requiring surgery to place pins to help it heal correctly. After two months of Harmony care and recuperation, another surgery to remove the pins was performed during the second week of December.

By then, this goose's loud honk and hearty appetite had returned, and she was ready to return home. On January 9, 2002, she was released at her site of origin, completely recovered. However, none of these things are what make this bird unique -- happily, hers is the sort of success story that is common at HWRC. The uncommon part of her tale is how she originally came to Harmony.

Our goose was one of two goslings born on private land. She was rescued by the property owner because predators were consistently killing the geese born near his lake. In hopes of securing her and her brother's safety, the gentleman moved the tiny birds near his other animals.

As some of you may already know, geese are one of several birds who will "imprint," or become attached to animals of a different species if that animal is closest when they are young. In the case of these two geese, the closest "goose" was actually a horse. The tiny birds imprinted on the horses and began following them everywhere. The geese and horses eat and sleep together, and neither seems to feel out of place.

In most cases, a bird incorrectly imprinting on another animal species is quite costly because it may not learn the basic rules of survival for its own species. However, in this case, what could have proven a costly mistake for these geese actually helped save their lives. They are in no danger from the usual predators because their imprinted family is so much larger, and so they remain at the lake and thrive.

Unfortunately, no matter the benefits, living with someone well over 100 times your size also has its own risks. Though no one knows for sure how Harmony's goose visitor wound up with a broken leg, it is quite possible she got a little too close to the horses. However, with the help of HWRC staff and volunteers, she's now back home with her brother and the rest of her adopted family.

There are human lessons to be learned from our goose's experience -- among them, that caring for another need not depend on outside appearances. This bird is also a good lesson in how much there is to learn from and appreciate about the wildlife around us. Every patient at Harmony has his or her own story, and we hope you enjoy and value them as much as we do.

The goose ventures out of a carrier, now home

On the lake with her sibling, just after release

 

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