Beyond the Backyard

Another Tale of Father Goose

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Regular readers of my blog may remember Father Goose.  He (she?) is a goose at Lake Morton who befriends the Muscovy Ducks each spring when their babies hatch.  I’m not sure where the Muscovy dads are, but they don’t seem to be much involved in raising the brood of youngsters.  Enter “Father” Goose, the lonely goose who arrived at Lake Morton several years ago and never quite fit in with the rest of the geese. So he hangs out with Mama Muscovy and the babies, taking a sweet interest in protecting them from all harm.  Any time a heron or egret approaches, the goose chases him away.  I’m sure Mama Muscovy appreciates the help – she has lots of babies! This year I went to Lake Morton right before the Mayfaire by the Lake art festival, and I found Father Goose hanging out with a family of eleven Muscovy babies.  They couldn’t have been more than a day or two old – they were tiny!  I managed to get ten of them posed with Mama. The Muscovy babies are constantly on the run, and they move pretty fast for tiny babies who are hardly taller than the grass!  They are challenging […]

Beyond the Backyard

Father Goose’s Teenagers

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Teenage Muscovy

Regular readers of my blog may remember Father Goose from about a month ago. He’s the goose at Lake Morton that befriends Muscovy ducklings and helps protect them as they grow up. A month ago, this is how he looked with his adopted family… Well, these days he’s looking after teenagers. While I was there on Sunday, I didn’t see Mama Duck anywhere, but Father Goose was still sticking close to his babies. They’ve grown so much! They’ve gone from little fuzzballs to almost-full-size Muscovies. Father Goose must be so proud! It’s very hard to raise young ducklings — they are such easy prey to a variety of predators. If only every family of ducks had a Father Goose!

Beyond the Backyard

Duck, Duck, Goose!

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All the birds at Lake Morton are playing “Duck, Duck, Goose!” as they watch Father Goose take care of his little ones. Mrs. Muscovy posed with her bright white face against a nice green background. She tried to be dignified, but it’s hard when you have a feather on your beak. This is one of Mrs. Muscovy’s little ones. At first I thought I liked the little yellow and black chicks better, but as I photographed this guy, he grew on me. In this picture I love how his brown colors blend in with the water around him. And of course we have Papa Goose! Here he is in defense mode, calling out at the top of his lungs to ward off the people who were walking nearby. Nobody gets within a few feet of “his” chicks without Father Goose putting up a good fight!

Beyond the Backyard

Father Goose

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Many human children grow up hearing the tales of Mother Goose. On Lake Morton, the young chicks grow up with Father Goose. This unique goose takes it upon himself to play nanny with young Muscovy duck families. I spent a sweet couple of hours with this little family on Saturday morning at Lake Morton. A friend who lives on the lake hypothesizes that this goose lost his mate several years ago. Since then, the goose has taken Muscovy ducks under his wing. It’s so sweet to watch the three chicks following Mom around the lake, with Father Goose swimming alongside them. When they finished their swimming lesson, Father Goose stood watch over the little chicks as they slept. He honked his head off anytime that another bird came near. Mallards, ibises, and limpkins were chased off by the little ducklings’ protector. The little chicks are so cute! There are two yellow and black chicks and one brown chick. They are a couple of weeks old, but they haven’t lost the cute factor. I will post more pictures in the next couple of days. :)

Backyard photography

Why did the duckie cross the road?

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We saw a Muscovy Duck on our walk tonight! He was hanging out on the sidewalk by the entrance to Rock Creek. At first I mistook him for a Turkey Vulture, then as I got closer, I made out the red marks on his face and realized who he was. I’ve never seen a Muscovy Duck before! :) The duck was very friendly, and he stood still on the sidewalk as we walked right past him. It’s not often that birds pose so well for head portraits: The duck seemed to be very happy to stand in the middle of the road. Rich walked up to him to get him to cross the road, but as soon as we turned around, the silly duck turned right around and went back into the road. It made us start asking the obvious question–“why did the duck cross the road?”–and after our Halloween entertainment of Laughy Taffy jokes, the answer was easy: to avoid the elephant who was carrying the chicken who had a frog strapped to his leg, while the baby panda with the diaper rash looked on! (What do other people do while handing out Trick-or-Treat candy, if not read the […]