The Norman Transcript

May 13, 2014

Residents keep avian family comfortable

By Kelly Rogers
The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — As the spring season transforms into summer, Oklahomans aren’t the only ones braving unpredictable weather. Norman’s wildlife is finding unique places to carry out survival habits.

A mother goose has chosen the Sam’s Club parking lot on West Main Street in Norman to raise her growing family, rain or shine, under the shade of a striped umbrella. As customers pass through the parking lot, arms with smartphones in hand extend out of car windows to capture nature’s funny ways.

Sam’s loss prevention manager Jennifer Fuloer has been working with WildCare Foundation of Noble and Norman Animal Welfare to care for their unsuspecting guest, along with Farrokh Moinian, Sam’s Club manager.

“Of all the places the goose could have picked to nest in, it’s funny that it chose the parking lot,” said Jane Valentine, a Sam’s Club employee.

But the parking lot proved to be enough for the mother goose to raise a family, and she soon nested in the mulchy parking lot median.

Though it seems strange to most, Rondi Large, director of WildCare, said this isn’t a rare occurrence.

“It’s that time of year for geese and ducks to nest,” Large said. “This is pretty standard behavior.”

Parking lots of various businesses — including Target, Kohl’s and Lowe’s — see birds during their nesting periods regularly because it proves to be a safe place for mother geese to incubate their eggs.

Large said WildCare’s phone has been ringing off the hook with calls about migratory birds and their parking lot nests.

“People are always concerned that it’s not near water, but they don’t need to be,” Large said. “It’s good because predators don’t lurk in parking lots.”

After calling WildCare, Sam’s Club managers learned there was no way to get rid of a goose in the middle of the nesting process, so they strove to make the most out of the occasion.

Not only is it detrimental to disturb the nest, but it also is against the law, Large said.

According to the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918, it is against the law to handle or tamper with any of the birds, especially those in the nesting process.

Norman Animal Welfare Supervisor John Bowman said the nesting habits of geese can be hard to understand, but the process behind finding a sufficient nesting area isn’t a simple one.

“Looking at the nesting habits of geese, it’s better to leave her alone because she has picked a place that she feels is safe for her,” Bowman said.

With the best interests of the goose in mind, Bowman said it would be a mistake to try to relocate the goose before her goslings hatch.

“I thought, ‘Why don’t we get her and move her,’” Bowman said. “But from what I understand, that’s the worst thing you could do.”

Moinian said they were not expecting the goose to stay, but then realized the parking lot had become more than just a hangout spot for the birds.

Attracting attention from customers and employees, Moinian said caring for the goose has become a group effort.

“This is our first goose experience,” Moinian said, “but our goal is to make her feel as comfortable as possible.”

Three weeks and two umbrellas later, the mother goose still sits on her nest, as Sam’s Club employees check on her daily, Moinian said.

The mother goose will rarely leave her nest, but when she does, the father is close behind. Moinian said the father goose can be seen patrolling the parking lot to protect his family.

Since moving the goose isn’t an option, Sam’s Club employees brought the shelter to her.

“The community is pulling together to help the mama goose by giving her a little shade, food and some comfort,” Moinian said.

Large said the eggs will hatch anywhere from 26 to 28 days after the incubation process begins. Though the geese are here to stay, Bowman said the goslings and the mother can be relocated once the eggs hatch.

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