With a hiss, the goose stood up and flapped its wings, revealing something else in the pot.
"Oh, look," Baron thought. "Six eggs."
Six little goslings-to-be that would soon be stranded high above the big city. On her roof.
"This is the last thing I need," she thought. "I'm a busy Realtor. I'm trying to make a living. I don't have time for this."
Baron is also a self-avowed animal lover, however, and that includes geese, even though she understands that
"I know a lot of people don't like them and will do vicious things to them," she says. "I thought, well, I'm just going to give these guys a chance."
But she knew that a goose on the roof -- where there was no food and the babies might fall to their deaths -- was a problem. She set out to solve it.
She went in search of information on what geese eat, then put corn and peas in a flower pot next to the strawberry pot so the mother goose could eat without leaving the nest.
She called organizations she thought might safely take the goose family away but was told she'd have to wait until the eggs hatched. She discovered that destroying the eggs without a permit was against the law, and she didn't want to do that anyway.
She disregarded friends who told her goose is good for dinner.
Waiting for a long-term solution, Baron resolved to treat the goose, christened Carlotta by a neighbor, like a friend. Every day, she went up to the roof, sat down in a chair near the strawberry pot and talked to her visitor. Sometimes she sang to the tune of The Beatles' "Norwegian Wood":
I once had a goose
Or should I say
She once had me
The goose got used to her.
Carlotta, she learned, was hardly the first goose to make the mistake of laying eggs on a high
"It is a fairly common situation," says
It's postpartum when the high, safe nest becomes dangerous.
Once the goslings are born, the mother goose has nothing to feed them and no way to get them down to the ground. It takes weeks for the newborns to learn to fly.
A baby goose that topples off a roof might survive if the fall is short and the landing soft. A fall from a tall building onto pavement can be deadly.
"Unfortunately," Schuman said, "geese haven't fully adapted to the concept of sidewalk and asphalt."
Finally, on Sunday, which happened to be
"Thank God I have a 3-foot parapet wall," Baron says.
As a precaution, she blocked entry to the downspouts. She bought microgreens and wheat grass for the newborns to eat. She continued her quest for a rescue.
But there was another problem.
In her crash course on the lives of geese, Baron learned that the big birds mate for life and that if Carlotta and the goslings were taken away without the father, Carlotta was likely to abandon the kids and go in search of her partner.
"To have witnessed how dedicated she was to these eggs," Baron says, "I was shocked to learn how much more dedicated she is to her mate."
She'd seen no sign of the patriarch, however, until Monday evening, as thunderstorms swept
On the rooftop, in the rain, Baron tipped a plastic cooler on its side to create shelter for the clan. Instead, Carlotta spread her wings and the goslings gathered underneath.
Dad stayed the night and was still there Tuesday afternoon when I stopped by. He and the family were circling the rooftop over and over, while Baron hoped the Chicago Bird Collision Monitors rescue team would soon come to take them to safe ground.
Once that happened, she planned to goose-proof her roof. If she didn't, Carlotta was likely to be back in the strawberry pot with a new brood.
Baron is glad she has learned so much about geese. It's amazing, she says, not that we survive them but that they survive us. She'll miss Carlotta and the gang.
"I felt an obligation to do what I could for one little family of geese in this big, cold, hard, hungry city," she says. "It was an honor to have them."
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