Most people welcome spring with joy, hope and the promise of renewal. For Kali and me spring (in part) signals something else altogether. It's the time when vulnerable baby animals appear. At one time, more than 25 years ago, our organization provided wildlife rehabilitation services. Though we haven't accepted orphaned or injured animals in a quarter century, many people still remember us a place where they brought broken wildlife. Other people simply don't have a clue about where to go with an animal in distress, so they come to "the nature center." There are two rehabilitation clinics within an hour's drive of our location, but many people are unwilling to make the drive. So, guess who gets to make a late evening drive when someone drops off an animal after work? This year's season started out more personally. On Tuesday evening, the pair of Canada geese that had been brooding eggs on the tiny island in the pond below our house showed up at our bird feeder with six adorable goslings in tow. We had been feeding the parents earlier in the year (before the female committed to sitting on the nest, day and night, for three weeks), so the geese knew where to get a quick handout - and we were happy to oblige. Though the world does not need more Canada geese, the goslings are irresistibly adorable, and we were happy to shell out some millet. On Wednesday, the family failed to appear, and I suspected something had happened. This pair of geese has (regrettably) used the pond for nesting for the last three years. (We can tell; the female has a distinctive limp.) The first year, the water in the pond rose above the level of the nest for several days and the eggs drowned. Last year, something (likely a snapping turtle) picked off the goslings one by one until there were none.
Last evening, Kali and I went down to the pond and found the adults cruising the surface alone, with no goslings in sight. Something picked off six goslings in a period of less than a day. Kali was heartsick; she literally couldn't sleep last night for thinking about the waste of life. The season of depression has officially begun.