Deer Guarded Nesting Goose; Goslings Leave

5:33 AM, May 3, 2011   |    comments
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Video: Deer Guards Goose Nest

  • Meeting the Family
  • Deer resting near goose
  • Deer watching activity
  • Night vision image of deer near goose
  • Night vision image of deer near goose
  • Deer near goose
  • Goslings leave nest in cemetery which had been protected by deer.
  • Deer leave nest which had been protected by deer
  • Deer protects goose
  • Deer walking past camera

The Story of the Goose & Deer

An update on this en-deering story occurred over the weekend.  A viewer who was passing through Forest Lawn happened upon the deer as it approached the goose and her goslings.  She witnessed the meeting of the protector and the protected presumably for the first time.  The deer approached the group and was allowed to move to within just a few feet of the little birds.

The mother goose and her six or seven goslings have apparently "flown the coop" after they hatched in the past day or so. They were seen under the mother goose in the nest urn earlier on Wednesday but then were photographed leaving the nest and walking around the cemetery.  So far there is no sign of the deer which was apparently watching over them.

Ever since they were spotted in early April, it was like a scene right out of a Disney movie. The mother goose had lost her lifelong mate and was now left alone to create and tend to her nest in Forest Lawn Cemetery in Buffalo, NY.  She spent the day sheltering her eggs from the cool spring air inside an empty urn she had chosen as home.

The loss of her male partner and guardian now made her vulnerable to any would-be predators that chose to approach the nest.  But, in an unlikely twist of fate, an adult deer  befriended the mother goose, taking over the role of protector.

This animal arrangement was highly unusual, since there's no known way that a deer and goose can communicate. Yet somehow the deer came to understand the need of the nesting mother.

Mark Carra is a naturalist in residence with the Buffalo Audubon Society site at Beaver Meadows in North Java, Wyoming County. Carra says this type of bonding between animals may happen more than we realize. He cites the example of a crow watching over a kitten several years ago. Carra also theorizes that there may have been a previous connection between the deer and the goose that we just don't know about. It could be the deer lost its mother while young and the goose helped it out.  

Carra also applauded the installation of the web-cam by WGRZ's Andy Parker noting people may be curious. But if they approached too close they could spook the deer and cause problems. They might also have provoked the goose on her nest. He cited examples of bald eagles simply choosing to abandon a nest with eggs because people got too close while trying to watch with binoculars. 

Joel Thomas, wildlife administrator with the SPCA of Erie County, says the deer will now probably return to its normal deer - like activities as its feeds, forages, and eventually loomks to breed in the fall. It is thought to be a male deer or buck from its appearance.      

The deer spent its days near the urn acting as guardian when needed.  As passersby approached the area the deer stood  and placed itself between the person and the nesting goose.  On one occasion the deer even took a protective stance as it attempted to fend off a barking dog near the area of the urn. It was also seen on the webcam fending off some crows which were watching the vulnerable goslings.

Craig Cygan owner of Borders on Patrol, a company hired to move the goose flock from time to time says a goose would normally attempt to fend off the deer with loud honks and raised wings especially near the nest.  This one, he says seemed to like the company.

Meteorologist Andy Parker

Here's a little more information about the place the deer and goose called home.

Forest Lawn Cemetery was created by Charles Clarke with nature in mind, and was one of the first in the country to be designed with attention to a landscape plan.  Today Forest Lawn remains a serene setting, providing sanctuary to wildlife and mankind alike.  In addition to the goose and deer you may occasionally see rabbits and turkeys pass by as well as numerous winged species.

The goose and deer were in the original portion of the cemetery which dates back to 1849. The urn in which the goose sits is in close proximity to the resting place of many individuals with ties to American history and culture.  For instance, former United States President Millard Fillmore & the inventor of the jet airplane Lawrence Bell are just a short distance away, while the first African American woman to run for president Shirley Chisholm & Grammy winning recording artist Rick James are located just off the hill. 

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