My neighborhood has a small pond, which has become home to pairs of wild ducks and Canada geese. Every spring, I delight in watching as baby ducklings and goslings appear. I see them swimming in perfect formation behind their parents, or poking around on the grassy banks, or resting at the pond’s edge. The parents hover by protectively, ready to herd the babies into the safety of the water as we walk by. Alex loves to stop and watch the geese, but he keeps his distance. A week or so ago I noticed two adorable fuzzy goslings swimming with their parents in the pond. Last year, their were at least six goslings hatched, and over the weeks that I watched them, it seemed as if all survived and thrived. I don’t know why only two were hatched this year, but there are predators – cats and racoons, hawks and crows, maybe even foxes and coyotes – to which they are vulnerable.
Last evening as I walked Alex, I didn’t see any geese on the pond. Then, at a tree near the street, Alex stopped to sniff something. Sadly, it was one of the goslings. Its fuzzy brownish-yellow color blended almost perfectly with the mulch around the tree. I pulled Alex away, not wanting him to pick up the body. How it died is a mystery. The body did not appear damaged.
I was reminded once more of the daily struggle for survival all wildlife face. I think of the courage of birds, building their nests in the midst of housing developments, in the safest bush or eave or marsh grass they can find, so that a family can be born and food can be found. I’m sad when I find a dead bird in my yard, victim of a cat who lurks around my feeder. I’m sad when I see yet another beautiful pasture or woods being cleared for a housing development or strip mall, knowing that nests and burrows are being destroyed.
This Mother’s Day I will say a prayer for protection of mothers of all species, and may all their children be safe and loved.