Wildlife

Single Chick Flocks

It has been a good year for raven hatchlings, as well as for Goose and Gander.  The Montana field guide explains that egg dates for ravens are probably early in April, and that the young have been identified flying around Fortine as early as June 8.  The typical clutch is 3 to 7 birds – and this year the adults and the young have been specializing in turkeys – eggs and chicks.

This year, Goose and Gander had their goslings hatch out over two rainy days – but they take parenting seriously, so Gander took over the hatchlings as Goose spent one more day on the nest until the hatching process was complete.  This patriarchal assistance doesn’t exist among turkeys, where the males are content to strut and gobble.  The two species may offer a lesson for humans.

We’ve watched ravens land in the salt lick with turkey eggs or fledglings.  It is a reminder that nature is not gentle, and that reaching adulthood is a great accomplishment for prey species.  I realized how rough it has been when I watched two turkey hens, each protecting the single chick they have left.  One was just beginning to fly, and the hen flew to join it on a branch – three ravens were stalking through the grass, but when the small turkey goes airborne, it’s totally vulnerable.  The other chick, not yet flying, had its mother stand her ground – she is actually capable of intimidating the young ravens.  We’re accustomed to a pair or three turkeys consolidating their hatches into large flocks – this pair has only been able to protect 2 chicks from predation.

The geese and ducks don’t seem to be bothered by the ravens – they keep swimming and the ravens aren’t equipped for water landings.

The ravens – old and young – are spending a lot of time in the tall trees along the edges of the field.  Close to the house, they’re looking for robins, bluebirds and swallows.  I haven’t seen any after the hummingbirds.  As Spring brings fawns, it looks like the little dog and I will have to walk in the field to discourage the ravens from the fawns who are parked in the grass.

Wildlife

The Goslings Hatched

Each Spring, before the ice thaws in the pond, Goose and Gander return, to make sure that no other goose couple takes her nesting island.  In 2015, they were alone, and Gander worked to chase off all other nesting birds – the next year, some of the year-old goslings returned with them.  By now, he’s an old hand at this – about a half-dozen yearling geese and their consorts hang out in the big pond, and ducks nest along with Goose on her island. 

So we’re watching Goose, Gander, and eight offspring stroll and swim around.  The pond isn’t really ours.  It belongs to the waterfowl that use it as a place to raise their young.  We just get to watch them more than anyone else does.

This year she started her nest 3 days before the ice went out – and the hatching was spread out over two days and a night.  It was easy to observe – Gander came ashore to keep the goslings covered as Goose continued her nesting, and last year’s young geese circled the island and flew patrols overhead.