A wildlife specialist for Erie Soil and Water Conservation District in Erie County, Ohio, was walking back to his car with his daughter last Sunday after stopping by his office when he spotted smoke.
Tim White walked around the corner of his building to discover a Canada goose sitting on a burning nest.
“It wasn’t blazing like a bonfire,” White told the Sandusky Register. “You could see a little blaze around the nest.”
White and his daughter rushed to put out the flames with water buckets. The entire time, the goose didn’t budge from her spot on the nest.
“She probably would have sat there until she was deceased,” White told The Dodo.
After the flames died down, White saw the goose’s six eggs.
“She was doing the motherly thing,” White told the Sandusky Register. “She was very protective of those eggs. She took the brunt of the heat and the fire.”
He also found cigarette butts in the nest, suggesting that the nest was deliberately set on fire. The Erie County Sheriff’s Office and the Ohio Division of Wildlife are currently investigating the fire.
Heather Yount of Back to the Wild rehabilitation centre in Castalia, Ohio, where the mother goose is now recovering, told WTVG of Toledo that it appeared the protective bird was trying to put out the fire with her feathers.
“In addition to losing all her flight and tail feathers, she also singed her tongue,” Yount said.
The goose is now receiving daily shots of antibiotics to prevent infection. A veterinarian believes the bird’s feather follicles experienced no lasting damage and should grow back when she moults later this summer.
“She smells a bit like a campfire but once her feathers grow back she should once again be a beautiful and healthy Canada Goose. We certainly hope she gets a second chance to be free,” Yount told WTVG.
Five of the six eggs are now in an incubator at the Back to the Wild rehabilitation centre.
“There is a possibility that the fire damaged the eggs beyond repair and they may not hatch, but we are not giving up on them. We will be incubating them for the remainder of their incubation period to make sure we give them the best chance possible,” Yount wrote in an email to GrindTV.
If they do hatch, Back to the Wild staff will attempt to reunite them with their mother so they can be raised in the wild.