Make Way for Goslings

Over this past spring break in early March, when Marist School was devoid of activity and eerily quiet, new residents moved into the heart of campus. Two Canadian geese—a mother and father—built their nest in the green space of the ledge next to the main stairs leading up from the Flag Circle. When normal campus operations resumed the following week, students, faculty, and staff encountered Mama Goose sitting on her four eggs and Father Goose patrolling the area, protecting his family from anyone who came near.
The geese became a familiar sight on campus and a favorite topic of conversation for the community over the following weeks. Students as well as children of faculty and staff in the Early Learning Center were captivated by the geese, and students were asked to give the geese space (please no selfies!) and refrain from feeding them. We learned so much during the time the geese lived among us. Our Mama Goose picked a classic goose nesting location—high up with good visibility around it and in sight of water (Nancy Creek). We learned that Canadian geese are monogamous and mate for life, and the male will guard the female while she sits on the nest. We learned that it would take 26-28 days for the eggs to hatch and estimated that the goslings were due to arrive sometime around Easter. We had a collective moment of panic when Father Goose had not been seen for a few days; we felt relief when he returned and knew that he would continue to bring food (mostly grass) to his mate who could not leave the nest for long periods of time.

When we returned from Easter break, Mama Goose was still sitting on her nest, waiting for her eggs to hatch. At long last, four yellow goslings made their entrance into the world on Wednesday, April 19, a beautiful spring day. 

It may have appeared that the timing of the hatchlings was ill-fated, for the following day was St. Peter Chanel Day, one of the busiest, most festive, and loudest days on campus. The geese’s particular location was in the middle of the action, where crowds gathered to watch student bands play all day long. The lucky students, faculty, and staff who were there, however, were able to catch a glimpse of nature in action. Perhaps Mama Goose had had enough of the loud music. Mid-day, she determinedly rose from the nest and marched with her four goslings away from their temporary home, through the throngs of students gathered, across the pavement to Stadler Field, and towards their new home in the creek.

We have since learned that geese usually raise their children communally, so after goslings hatch, it is normal for the family to travel to their meetup point to join with other new families. We also learned they frequently leave the nest a day or two after hatching and don’t return because it is safer for geese to sleep on the water. When the geese left, they walked to Perimeter Creek on Marist’s campus, a small Nancy Creek tributary which runs towards Perimeter Mall. 

Marist School Director of Campus & Student Activities Mrs. Amelia Luke ’01 developed a special relationship with Mama Goose over the seven weeks she resided here and kept a watchful eye on her and the nest. Mrs. Luke said, “I loved watching the geese out my window. It was so cute to see the students peering in to check on the mama while she sat on her eggs. It was an experience not many of us get any more living inside of the city, and it was clear how much the students enjoyed it. I never expected to learn so much about an animal but have become well versed in all things Canada geese.”

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Marist School

3790 Ashford Dunwoody Road, NE
Atlanta, GA 30319-1899
(770) 457-7201
An Independent Catholic School of the Marist Fathers and Brothers