An expectant mother goose sat on her nest Tuesday afternoon, closely watching the team of people evaluating her location choice. It doesn’t look like a good one.
“She’s within five or six feet of the cars rushing by her,” said Jeff Cooney, a Bend veterinarian and co-founder of High Desert Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation.
The Canada goose, sitting over five eggs, was on a nest just off the northbound lane of the Bend Parkway near the Colorado exit. Father goose was nearby too, flapping his wings and puffing his chest when Cooney and the three other volunteers with the group came near the nest.
It’s nesting season for geese and many other birds in Central Oregon, and when it comes to birds nesting in and near town, they may pick unusual places to build. Prime example, the geese along the parkway.
While not as close to commotion as the goose nest, two pairs of great horned owls already have hatched young in nests close to places where people pass by in Bend, said Nancy Gilbert, field supervisor for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. One set is in a tree at Drake Park in downtown Bend, and the other is in a tree by the parking lot for the Deschutes National Forest headquarters building, which also houses the Fish and Wildlife field office.
Gilbert has seen a pair of owlets, baby owls, in the nest by her office.
An owlet fell out of the Drake Park nest in April, said Jeannette Bonomo, a veterinarian technician and the other co-founder of High Desert Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation.
Another rehabilitation outfit is tending to the young bird but probably won’t return it to the nest.
“The Drake Park (nest) is not an ideal location because of people walking their dogs,” Bonomo said.
The volunteers with Bonomo’s rescue group do plan to return a rehabilitated great horned owlet, which fell from its nest off Arnold Market Road in southeast Bend, to its nest soon. After checking on the goose nest along the parkway Tuesday, the team went and inspected the owl nest in southeast Bend. Great horned owls are the first bird to hatch in the spring in Central Oregon, Bonomo said, so they are usually the first to be brought in for rehabilitation.
When possible, and when the nests are in a safe spot, Bonomo said volunteers with rehabilitation groups try to return birds to their nest and their parents.
“It is much better to have the parents raise the baby than us,” she said.
What will happen with goose nest along the parkway is unclear. Cooney and Bonomo said they went out Tuesday to see whether installing temporary fencing around it could potentially prevent the birds from wandering onto the highway and being hit or causing a wreck. A quick assessment of the site found more traffic in nearly every direction, with the nest also near Colorado Avenue as it passes under the parkway.
Cooney called up the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. Earlier in the day Bonomo was on the phone with the Oregon Department of Transportation. Cooney and Bonomo said they heard no decisions on what, if anything, may be done from the agencies.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service allows landowners, public land managers and local governments to remove Canada goose nests or the eggs in them. As of Tuesday afternoon, the agencies contacted by Cooney and Bonomo were trying to determine who owns or manages the land where the geese are nesting along U.S. Highway 97.
In an effort to control the goose population in parks around town, the Bend Park & Recreation District for the past three years has maintained a program that includes smearing oil on goose eggs, which prevents them from hatching. The program also involves dogs chasing geese away and people rounding up goslings, which are hauled to Summer Lake State Wildlife Area. The nonlethal efforts came after the district’s killing of 109 adult Canada geese in 2010 sparked controversy.
Away from the hum of traffic along the parkway, Ann Thompson, 69, of Sisters, also made a recent discovery of a nest in a surprising place. A couple days ago she noticed a nest in a Bulletin newspaper box, one of about 20 such boxes next to the mailboxes for her neighborhood near the Sisters Airport.
The little nest has five blue eggs in it.
“It seems like a pretty good place for a nest actually — dry and warm,” Thompson said.
— Reporter: 541-617-7812, firstname.lastname@example.org