Watch out for geese crossing Toronto streets in search of water
What do you do when you see baby ducks and geese cross the street?
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Why did the goose cross the road? To get to the water.
Between May and June, it is common to see geese and duck babies on the streets, and the Toronto Wildlife Centre gets about a dozen calls a day with reports of sightings.
“Duck and goose families are everywhere in Toronto,” says Nathalie Karvonen, the executive director at the Toronto Wildlife Centre. “Anywhere they can walk to water with their young — and there are many, many rivers and ponds peppered throughout the city, in addition to our lakefront.”
Geese like open, flat places — away from predators — to lay eggs, and within hours of hatching the parents lead their babies to a water body. Ducks are different than geese in that they like to nest in hidden spots such as under a bush. This is probably because there is no father watching out for the family, unlike with geese.
The geese or the duck family are heading straight to water, Karvonen says, although sometimes it takes them a couple of kilometres to get there, but they do always have a spot they are seeking and that usually happens within 24 hours of the babies hatching.
So, what does one do when waterfowl and their young block the roadway?
“It’s a difficult question,” Karvonen says.
The mother duck or the geese parents are very protective, so touching the babies is out of the question, she says.
“It will be ideal to give them a minute or two to go across the street.”
Apart from giving them time to cross the street, people can make sure that there are no straggling goslings or ducklings, Karvonen says.
If one of the tiny waterfowl has trouble getting up a steep curb then you could wrap a towel around the baby and to help it up, in order to avoid touching it, she says.
One of the other important things to keep in mind is not to feed them.
Other than the fact that this is not good for them, it will prevent them from taking their babies to water, Karvonen says.
In spite of people’s best efforts and intentions, tragedy does strike occasionally.
“Unfortunately, sometimes duck and goose families do get hit by cars and one or more members of the family get injured, or killed,” she says. “We often admit individuals for care, and sometimes their whole family accompanies them.”
If you see waterfowl or any animals in distress, call Toronto Wildlife Centre at 416-631-0662.
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