Another trip over to the lake this time there Wes a young goose on its own on the water, with its parents not far away on the edge of the lake.
Gosling is a specialized term for a young baby goose, typically still covered with soft, fluffy down feathers and unable to fly. Because these chicks are precocial, however, even at a young age they can easily forage on their own and both walk and swim well. Yet despite the amount of independence they have immediately after hatching, goslings stay in a family flock under the protective eyes of their parents for several weeks or months as they grow and mature.
All young waterfowl can be challenging to identify because these birds are deliberately camouflaged for protection before they mature. Goslings can be distinguished from ducklings, however, based on their larger size and longer necks, as well as a more triangular bill shape. Ducklings, on the other hand, have more flattened, spatulate-shaped bills, are significantly smaller, and have shorter, more compact necks than baby geese.
Determining the exact species of a baby goose can be difficult. Because goslings are never far from their parent birds and are rarely seen in mixed flocks, the adult birds they associate with can be one of the best clues to proper identification. Other clues that can help identify goslings include:
Range: Different geese often have different breeding ranges, and young goslings will not venture out of that breeding range until they have matured to their adult plumage. A camouflaged, hard-to-identify, immature gosling will not be seen extremely far from its mature breeding range.
Markings: Despite their camouflaged, downy plumage, young geese often do have certain distinguishing markings, particularly around the head and face. Noting down color and the color of the feet and legs can also help identify young goslings.
Voice: Young birds are often more vocal than their adult counterparts, and different begging calls can be distinctive. Furthermore, excessive begging will often call adults to return to nurture the goslings, providing the best possible identification clue, the parents.