The goose mother, along with her goslings, plan to leave the nest by falling 14 stories. (Alice Willms photo)

VIDEO: Goslings hatched on 14th floor of Abbotsford apartment

Resident Alice Willms has witnessed three years of Canada Goose nesting and raising young

For the past three years, an Abbotsford resident has had a first-hand look into the creation of life.

Alice Willms’ 14th floor apartment ledge has become a nesting spot for a Canada goose and this year she documented the goslings’ entry into the planet.

She took pictures, shot video and wrote about the experience of seeing life unfold in front of her eyes.

Here is what she submitted to The News:

For three successive years now, I’ve found myself completely enchanted by the life and times of a goose and her gander and their little ones. Somewhat mesmerizing and not without some worry on my part, they come year after year and stake their claim on a narrow gravel- covered parapet outside my window to which I have no access.

This year for the first time, Lucy laid only five eggs rather than the half dozen of previous years. But after laying that first egg she didn’t seem to know what to do with it and abandoned it uncovered, for three or four days. I did not think it could hatch.

When she did return, to my surprise she sat day after day and dutifully laid four more eggs and sat on that first one as well, preening herself and doing her quarter turns throughout the day and occasionally turning her eggs as-well. When she’d leave her nest for her evening tryst with Goosey, she’d cover her eggs with lots of fluffy down which she’d pulled off her underbody, preparing a soft welcome for the goslings when they would arrive about four weeks later.

And then they came….. I saw what I was eagerly waiting for…yellow fluffiness exposing itself from under Lucy. One by one I noticed that the eggs were hatching throughout the afternoon until four yellow fluff balls had pecked their way through the shell, bursting forth and tentatively peering out from under mama goose’s body. I was ecstatic as usual, texting my family and taking video snippets.

After they’d all arrived that were going to arrive, I realized that the dud hadn’t, and that indeed, wouldn’t hatch. There are crows and falcons around alright, waiting to pounce on unsuspecting goslings as they did last year, but even they don’t want a rotten egg. The geese are well adapted it seems, for all kinds of trials and so I prepared to watch the daunting task of their flight from my protected ledge down into the big bad world below.

The following day I noticed Lucy stayed close to the nest and Goosey too, was present, and I wondered what their plans might be. The goslings were all of 24 hours old, if that, and they seemed very timid and not at all interested in trying to scramble up the side of the slippery wall onto the narrow ledge from where they would free fall down, down, down onto the unforgiving driveway below.

I thought they’d be practising the climb as in other years. But I could not believe my eyes, when after returning home after a few hours away…they had bolted! Gone, all of them gone…leaving their lodgings just as tidy as they’d found them, all but the dud, and I knew they’d be 14 floors below on the concrete driveway! Had they survived? In previous years one or two would either be snapped up by a watchful crow or become injured from the fall. I hurried to my living room window, removed the screen so I could peer down to see how they had fared.

Oh, there they were, so tiny, so fragile, as I happily looked down from my 14th floor window….They’d made it! But what condition were they really in? Both Goosey and Lucy waited patiently for their little ones to gain their bearings and to recover from the shock of the free-fall from that height. At one point Lucy sat right down on the driveway and kept lifting her wing, encouraging the little ones to come under for protection and warmth and comfort for awhile, which they did. All the while Goosey stood his ground hissing at every car coming to a screeching halt after rounding the corner, then reversing until they were able to slowly circumvent the intrepid family before them.

Not until Lucy and Goosey deemed their little gaggle of geese fit, did they slowly proceed. And so began their daunting trek to find their way to water, food and hopefully, safety.

What hardships these creatures face continuously. God has designed them so beautifully and they communicate with each other in mysterious ways. I was reminded of the Scriptures where Jesus is lamenting: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem…how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing.” Matthew 23:27 Why do we resist the One, the only One who gives life, forgiveness, salvation, freedom, peace, purpose and hope for this life and the next?

Here we are in the midst of a global threat of the Corona Virus. Are we worried, frightened, doubting our Heavenly Father’s goodness and love? Don’t you think that the quarantine situation can turn out to be a blessing in disguise for us, for all who want a blessing? It seems to me that God in His loving kindness is giving us a perfect opportunity to get close to Him, accepting the forgiveness for our sins that He holds out to us so lovingly. The time will come, and seems to be very near, when time literally will run out and oh the anguish that will bring to many. Let’s share the earnestness of this season to get right with Him and mend and restore broken relationships as much as it is in our power to do.

Please join me, when you read this, in a prayer of thanksgiving to God Almighty, who created this whole amazing universe, who flung the stars into space, who created oceans setting their boundaries, who created the geese I’ve enjoyed so much so close to me, who created you and me and loved us. Let’s come to Him with soft and grateful hearts, receiving His love and forgiveness. He is waiting for us. With great joy and confidence in the One who does all things well – Alice Willms, April 2020

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