Update: All six goslings hatched in the morning of Sunday, April 28th. They appear to be healthy and thriving. The goose family is still perched on the third-floor ledge, and Mom and Dad are keeping the babies safe. Local wildlife rescue group City Wildlife is standing by to assist the goose family if necessary, but they say a drop from that height likely wouldn’t hurt the goslings.
At National Geographic, we cover wildlife stories from all over the world. Our photographers have gone under the Antarctic ice to photograph penguins. They’ve spent months in Yellowstone documenting stunning elk migrations.
But the wildlife story that’s most captivated our staff this spring is right here at home.
On a grassy ledge off the third floor of National Geographic’s headquarters in Washington, D.C., a female Canada goose sits on six eggs. The eggs, by our calculations, are due to hatch sometime this week (Canada geese eggs incubate for 24-28 days). Staffers are riveted.
We have a YouTube live cam set up on the goose nest around the clock. Some of us have it set as a desktop screensaver. And people from around the world have joined in to watch. At any given time, a couple hundred viewers may be glued to the live stream.
“Are we just watching a goose sit…?” new viewers will ask in the YouTube live chat.
“YES!” die-hard cam-watchers will answer.
The Canada goose and her mate appeared in National Geographic’s courtyard about a month ago. It was a first for us. We have a resident mallard duck pair who, up until now, had been the wildlife darlings of our campus. As the geese pair encroached, the mallard pair made themselves scarce. Sometimes we catch the male mallard back in the courtyard pond, staring down the male goose. We discovered that the female mallard has found a new spot for her own nest: in a flower bed down the block.
Meanwhile, National Geographic’s courtyard has become goose territory. The male often stands perched on a tall rock, holding court. One visiting group of schoolchildren surrounded him the other week, paying homage. “All hail the goose! All hail the goose!” they chanted.
Sometimes, he’ll visit his mate near her nest, but never goes too close. His job is policeman—he keeps predators like humans and dogs away from his family.
Mom rarely leaves her nest, which is normal for Canada geese. Every couple of days she’ll venture quickly down to the pond for a splash and drink of water (nesting Canada geese do not need to eat or drink for the entire period of gestation). The rest of the time she’s sitting. And sitting.
Canada geese generally nest closer to the ground. Local wildlife rescue and rehabilitation organization, City Wildlife, is helping National Geographic staff monitor the nest. They’re standing by to assist the goslings if necessary.
Join us on goose-watch as we await the arrival of our newest avian friends.