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Birds--General/injured gosling


QUESTION: I have a half grown Canadian goose that has been in our yard for the last week. It was with a family group until that time. I suspect the neighbor may have injured it with her car, but can't be sure what happened. The rest of the geese have left it behind.

It has a very bad limp. I don't see any blood or protruding bone- it is clearly painful to step on the one leg. It manages to limp a few steps then sits down. It is eating and alert, and is very smart about hiding at night, which is good because we have a lot of wildlife around that would like to eat it. (Hawks, foxes, raccoons, fisher) I put several shallow dishes of water around the area, but I haven't fed it as it has plenty of grass and clover to eat. It isn't feathered yet, so it can't fly. The limp does not seem to be improving at all after a week.

The situation is this: I called the local wildlife rehab hospital. If I can catch it and transport it to them, they will treat it for free. However, they warned me that sometimes catching a wild bird will cause so much stress to the bird that it will die. Should I try to catch it or just let it be? It clearly feels safe in our yard. Twice the family group has appeared again in the yard, and they seem to recognize it as their own, but since it can't keep up with them it just stays here when they leave.

I am just not sure what to do about it. Am I being cruel by not taking it to the wildlife center? Am I causing it to suffer more by leaving it alone or trying to catch it? Will the stress of treatment in a hospital be too much for it? Is it better off here where the rest of the family is? Should I try to keep it safe from predators in a cage or a pen? Any advice?

ANSWER: Thanks for your concern. You have done the right thing so far. If the bird doesn't have flight feathers fully grown yet, it is still pretty young. Who knows what the injury is. Sometimes a crooked leg is the result of a lack of vitamin D, but it could be anything. The bird will live its life like that unless it is treated. So bring it to the wildlife rehab center; that's usually the best thing to do. It will be stressed but I doubt it will cause the bird's death. Short term treatment will be good for the long run for the bird. Good luck. (By the way, the proper name is Canada Goose, not Canadian.)

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thanks for your advice.  I'm just curious to hear what you think about one thing. The other goslings in the group are feathered and showing adult colors, while the one in our yard is still fuzzy. Is this slow development something that could be caused by malnutrition? (i.e. too much white bread?)

I will take your advice and get it to the treatment center. Thanks for your help.

Interesting. If this one is behind in development it could be diet or something genetic. White bread won't cause problems unless it is the bulk of their diet. If the bird has eating nothing other than white bread, then yes, could be. The limping suggests to me a lack of Vit D but that's a guess.


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Roger Lederer


Any and all questions about WILD birds - not caged, domestic or poultry. Can answer questions about identification, taxonomy, behavior, courtship, plumage, flight, or anything else. Wild birds only, please.


Taught ornithology (the study of birds) at the university level for 30 years. Have written five books on birds, published 30 scientific articles, write a blog on birds, have the website, lectured to hundreds of groups on birds,and have traveled to 90 countries studying birds.

A variety of ornithological and conservation organizations.

Real Simple Magazine, Enterprise-Record, and several ornithological and ecological journals.

PhD in Zoology with emphasis in ornithology.

Awards and Honors
Professional Achievement Award, Jack Rawlins Chair of Environmental Literach.

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