April 29, 2019
Story by Vanessa Gomez, Photos by Ken Dalton
EDMONTON — An exceptional family is causing quite the flap at the Royal Alexandra Hospital (RAH). Already known for providing superb obstetrical care at the Lois Hole Hospital for Women, the RAH is broadening its maternity expertise to watch over a pair of geese who will soon welcome their own feathery bundles of joy.
The pair have chosen to make the Ted and Lois Hole Healing Garden in the Robbins Pavilion their nest home while they brood their six eggs, which should be ready to hatch in a few weeks.
“Mom, Dad and the eggs have the entire garden to themselves right now,” says Ken Dalton, a medical photographer at the RAH, who’s been observing the family daily. “They’re quite protective at this point and will get even more so as the incubation period goes on.”
For geese, the incubation period typically runs 28-30 days, in which the mother spends most of her time on the nest. She’s relieved by Dad when she needs to feed and water in the early mornings. Dad spends most of his time perched away from the nest, where he keeps a keen eye on Mom and watches for predators.
While the Healing Garden remains closed in order to protect the family of geese, staff and patients are very understanding of the situation — and RAH staff have already started a naming contest for the hatchlings.
See photos of the goose family
“At every table, the conversation begins with ‘Have you heard about the goose family?’” says Janie Clink, Site Executive Director of the RAH. “It just brightens everyone’s day and it gives us a warm springtime feeling.”
To ensure the safety and comfort of the geese, RAH staff have also consulted with a conservationist who guided them on their typical nesting patterns of geese and advised them to let nature take its course once the eggs hatch.
“The RAH is all about providing compassionate care to all — and the goose family has become part of that,” adds Clink.
“They chose to make the RAH their home. We want to make it as welcoming and safe as possible. I’m looking forward to seeing the baby geese arrive.”