Sometimes you DO choose your family (of geese)

gosling

What would happen if an adorable 3-day old gosling was placed between two wire enclosures, one containing a sibling, and one containing a same-age gosling from another clutch? Would the baby bird recognize its brother or sister and patter over to its relative?

The answer: yes… at least as often as dentists recommend sugarless gum*. In four out of five trials, the little puffball sidled up to its sibling rather than a stranger’s young’un.

There’s one catch. The youngest goslings (ages 3–9 days) prefer groups. Even if it’s a group of unfamiliar goslings, the little bird almost always waddled over to an unknown group rather than a single relative. By 15 days old though, the youngsters reliably reunite with their kin, no matter how small their family.

p.s. I created this image at an awesome carbon dust workshop, coordinated by GNSI-Carolinas, this weekend. Marlene Hill Donnelly from the Chicago Field Museum was our fearless instructor – she’s wonderful!

*Radesäter, T. 1976. Individual sibling recognition in juvenile Canada geese (Branta canadensis). Canadian Journal of Zoology, 54(7): 1069–1072

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12 thoughts on “Sometimes you DO choose your family (of geese)

  1. Draw a Bird Day May: Bird Art Roundup! | Create art everyday

  2. Gwyndolyn’s nest: Part 3 – Myr's Bytes

  3. I clicked on the link at Mrs. Byte’s and found you here – I am very impressed by the gosling, and I like the way you handled those hints of background. I know carbon dust lends itself to this look, but it requires such close attention to detail! It’s not easy – very impressive! Now I have to click the link in your post, too –

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