This Family Raised a Baby Canada Goose for a Year—20 Years Later, It Returned Home
When two adult Canada geese left their gosling behind, a human family stepped in to raise him. Many years later, the goose still remembered the true meaning of family.
The Canada goose that came back
If you've ever witnessed the majesty of a Canada goose flock flying into the clouds, you know that these noble birds are a force to be reckoned with. Each flock is comprised of couples who mate for life, as well as their goslings. Together, they are one large family. Apart, they are individuals with quirks and personalities, just like us. No one knows this more than my family, who raised a silly little goose we named Peeper after he was abandoned as a baby.
A new feathered family member
In 2000, when I was around seven years old, my parents, sister, brother, and I were coming back from a T-ball game. That was our usual weekend adventure, but unlike every other weekend, a surprise was waiting for us in our driveway. There, we spotted two adult geese and a small gosling. The adults were startled by our return and flew away, but their baby was still too young to fly and couldn't follow. We are no strangers to the ways of wildlife, so we knew to avoid physical contact with the young gosling out of fear that it would imprint upon us and be lost to its family forever.
Hours passed, and night fell. With it came a deep chill and a fear of watchful predators. The tiny little thing was wandering around our yard, unaware of what could happen, and it was clear that the gosling needed protection, warmth, and sustenance to make it to the morning. At that point, we knew we had to intervene, and we brought him onto our back porch.
We all pretty much slept with one eye open till morning came. And then another morning. And still another. Each morning, we would try to scurry the goose over to his parents, who kept coming back to our yard. He wouldn't go to them, though, and they wouldn't come close enough to claim him. We kept this up for five days, but no luck. By then, the young goose had clearly decided we were his new family, so we had to give him a name. My sister Joanna called the little guy Peeper, because he would follow us around the yard making a peeping noise, nonstop. We also decided that Peeper was a boy. I don't know why; it just felt right.
While there was no mistaking Peeper's species, these "pets" actually turned out to be wild animals.
Our little guy grows up
Days turned into weeks, and weeks turned into months until almost a year passed. We settled into a routine filled with feathery hugs and camaraderie. Peeper slept on our back porch each night and, in typical Canada goose fashion, used it as a latrine. My dad would spray off all the goose droppings daily with a hose. Part of this ritual included Dad throwing Peeper up into the air so he could fly a loop around the house, coming back again once the porch was clean.
One evening, my uncle was over, and my dad wanted to show him Peeper's loop. He threw him up in the air, but this time, Peeper just flew off. Everyone was very, very sad. It was dark, and we were worried. We looked for him for days, calling his name, but he didn't come back. We hoped he found a flock and went off on his natural way.
Again, days turned into weeks and weeks turned into months, then years. I missed my little buddy, and I would call for him every time I saw a flock of Canada geese fly by in V-formation. Twenty years passed, and Peeper became a fond memory for my family.
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Peeper finds his way home
Geese live to be around 25 years old, are very loyal, and never forget their first home. Even so, it came as a total shock to me when, in 2019, an aging adult goose made his way back to my family home. Geese love houses with large, green lawns to eat on; the flat terrain also makes it easy for them to scout for predators. So, at first, I assumed it was just another Canada goose. And yet, something about the lone male seemed oddly familiar to me.
After two weeks of the goose coming back repeatedly, it became clear to me that this wasn't a random goose. He did all of the same things Peeper used to, like trying to come in through the front door and sleeping in our enclosed pool area. In addition to mimicking Peeper's old ways, this goose also responded to the name Peeper. Much to my amazement, my old best friend had returned, 20 years later.
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The ultimate gift
Why did Peeper return? It's hard to say. Perhaps his mate died, leaving him lonely. It's also possible that he is approaching his twilight years and knows it, making him crave his early home. This behavior is typical of geese. Whatever the reason, Peeper continues to live with me. It's a good thing I stayed in my childhood home.
He doesn't come home every single night the way he did as a baby. Some nights he may seek out the comfort of his own kind at the lake nearby. Geese in the wild typically sleep on water. But he's here a lot, making his presence known and giving me joy.
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This experience has been as meaningful to me as anything in my life. I hope that my children, someday, have the opportunity to connect with nature and a wild being in this same way. People crave connection with the natural world. Through Peeper, I have learned so much about myself and about the nature of love.
Next, check out more great Canadian bird stories.