At Tumwater Falls Park a few weeks ago, I saw a goose wandering around the log jam at the top of upper Deschutes Falls. It was such an odd sight that I had to take a second look. As I watched the goose settle into a certain spot, it occurred to me she might have a nest there. Sure enough, when I looked through my binoculars, she was firmly ensconced atop a mound of carefully arranged sticks she had built to incubate her eggs.
The next day I brought my Dad to see the goose. At 96 years old with limited mobility, he doesn’t get much of a chance to experience wild nature these days. I gave him my binoculars and pointed out where she was on the woodpile, since with her coloration she was very cryptic in that setting.
We both enjoyed observing the bird through binos and camera screen, especially when she stood up in the soft, goose-down lined nest and gently turned her eggs to ensure even warmth from her breast.
A few days later I returned to see if any of the babies had hatched, and was excited to note that she had three babies beneath her and some still-unhatched eggs in the nest.
I was kind of worried though, because throughout this whole thing, I had never seen a mate for the mother goose. Could she raise a whole family on her own?A couple days later, we were surprised to find the nest empty. There were two adult geese poking around the nest, but no babies in sight. What had happened to them?
Just as we were about to leave, my Dad said, “There they are!” The whole family was together; mother, father and six yellow, cute-as-could-be feather balls.
The gander was very protective. When two other geese, curious about the new babies, paddled near the nest, he pursued them up the river in an explosive fury of wings and honks.
The babies stayed near their mother, forming a tight little scrum whenever she moved away a few feet. But as the mother moved around the woodpile, the babies followed her, struggling their way over the jumble of branches and sticks. When she rested, they formed a beautiful scene.
I felt honored to have witnessed this process.
All photos and videos by Nancy Partlow