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Why does a parent goose peck at the runt of the flock? (1 Viewer)


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I wouldn't call myself a birder, but I sit by the window of my office, which is located right next to a large pond that attracts a lot of waterfowl: Canadian geese, mallards, ring-necked ducks and the occasional cormorant and great blue heron. With my fantastic view, I'm getting pulled into the world of birding!?

Recently I noticed goose behavior so strange, that I had to find and join a forum to try and get an answer!

A couple of the Canadian geese have goslings and I've been fascinated with how they manage a bunch of little guys who are so defenseless. This pair has 7 little goslings, but there's one that's noticeably smaller than the others, like a "runt". It also tends to be less active; eats less and sits a lot more.

The oddest thing is that one of the parents always pecks at it, even when it's just doing what the other goslings are doing. My questions are:

  • Is the mother/father trying to toughen up the weakest offspring?
  • Is it maybe a defector from another pair of geese? (I noticed there's another pair that only has one gosling…seems odd)

Obviously, I know nothing about bird behavior other than what I've learned sitting next to this pond for almost a year now. So I hope this isn't too naive a question and I've come to the right place for an answer! 🤞

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