Ask the Swan Specialist

Canada goose - protuberance on belly
Date: 18 May 2014


You have kindly helped me in the past with Canada geese questions, and I am hoping you might be able to offer advise on the following issue.

'Mama Goose' lost her eggs three times this spring. I wouldn't say she trippled-clutched, given the number of eggs, but I'm sure her body took a toll. The first time she had 4 eggs a day or two before she sat on them continuously (so 4-6 eggs probably). Second and third time I saw the nest the day before the eggs were stolen and she had 3 each time. She stopped trying to nest now (I hope). The day the eggs were stolen for the last time (they were stolen early in the morning), I've noticed she had what appears to be a protuberance on her belly. I can't tell if it is a solid mass. She's had it for maybe 5 days now. Last night it appeared to be slightly smaller, but i can't be sure. She acts normal in all respects and I'm feeding her bird seed and poultry pellets every day. The eggs were stolen by a man, he was seen taking other eggs and the first nest was very elaborate and it looked completely undisturbed. It was made of pine needles so i had put rabbit dried grass on top when she wasn't sitti g on it, and she kept it. Whoever stole the eggs arranged the grass right back so the nest looked full under it. Plus, this is a suburban area, with no predators.

I am attaching some pictures. I've known her since last august. She has always limped, but able to walk fast and ever appeared to be in any pain. It seems to the untrained eye that her left leg is not positioned well at the hip. She also looks like she had her lower bill was cracked at some point and healed in a v-shape, as opposed to flat on the bottom. The two sides of the lower bill don't compltely overlap at the front ridge, but she has no trouble eating, drinking, and appears to be thriving otherwise. Last year she and her mate were being chased away by other geese, and her mate was almost constantly keeping his neck feathers fluffed. This year, a very aggressive pair settled here and they were chasing mama and papa goose away from the property, not just their vicinity. I took it upon myself to bri v them back on the property with food ( neighboring property has rounded up geese in the past), put the seeds by my feet and kept the aggresive geese at a distance. It is amazing the courage papa goose gained from 2-3 weeks of that treatment. They both started picking on younger geese and papa would even go confront the aggressive gander, ... Before he was reminded his strength did not increase in 2 weeks :-))) He is confident enough not to walk around with fluffed feathers, and now that some other mature geese had gooslings and left, they are the top geese on the lake and live in peace, no fights (that could have injured her).

Please let me know if you suspect what it might be and if there is anything I can do. Taking her to the wildlife hospital is not an option. They euthanize geese most of the time.

Many thanks.