(Canada Geese, photo from WikiCommons)
By now, many people on campus are aware that Canada geese have built a nest and laid eggs on the Main Street side of Science Hall. Many people are excited and enthusiastic about sharing space with the birds and are keenly watching their nest. There are a couple of things to keep in mind when watching or interacting with the geese and with wildlife in general that might be applicable in other locations across campus (there is also a bird nest in Churchill Tower).
- Keep your distance! Wildlife that are disturbed by humans will likely flee and return later. However, adult geese can be quite aggressive in defending their nest and young, so if you wish to look at the nest do so from a great distance or through the window (but do so briefly so they do not become stressed out). If you are too close, the geese will swoop at you and hiss.
- Do NOT feed wildlife. This past week there was a plastic bag full of bread next to the geese’s nest. Feeding wildlife in general can alter their behavior, causing them to seek food out from any human that may pass by. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation also notes that some diseases can affect wildlife that are fed bread and crackers, through the mixing of feces and food. Bread is not part of a natural diet for Canada Geese and it is not nutritious for them. There is plenty of food for them to eat on their own. Plastic bags are a horrendous environmental problem so adding plastic bag waste to their habitat only makes the problem worse.
- If you see the goslings moving about outside of the nest, leave them be, there are many other birds around campus. If you find a baby bird of a different species out of its nest, it is okay to pick it up and gently place it back in the nest. With other baby animals (rabbits or squirrels) the best thing to do if you find one is leave it where it is or move it out of harms way if necessary. Do NOT bring them indoors.
- Tell other people to follow these rules and if necessary, put up signs encouraging better relationships with wildlife.
If you have any questions or concerns, or if you suspect an animal may be injured, contact the SPCA Serving Erie County’s Wildlife department at (716) 875-7360 Ext. 247.
Submitted by: Joshua Russell, assistant professor, Animal Behavior Ecology and Conservation