Wild Bird Fund of NYC and Vester to the Rescue

Tuesday, June 21, 2022 (Listed under Environment)

Walking the Central Park Reservoir on Friday, we followed an adorable Canadian Goose making her way around the pond. She seemed intent to return to the water but just kept walking, kind of waddling left, then right, then left again. As she looked longingly at the still, glassy water, we wondered, was she injured? Was she sick? Several passerbys commented that they had seen this same Goose there all week, circling the Reservoir, though unable to reach it by flight.

(note: to see the photos for this story, link to my instagram account @StacyClarkWriter)

We made a call to @Vetster.inc's amazing Dr. Frank Akawi, who suggested that the goose needed electrolytes like Gatorade or Pedialyte. After a quick sprint to Duane Reade on Madison and 89th Street, we placed a pan of Gatorade conspicuously along the Reservoir's edge so that “Goosey” could drink. She did! Thank you, Dr. Akawi!

We then called the Manhattan Borough Rangers and the @centralparknyc offices and 311, but it was way past closing hours. So we left word, sent emails and connected on Instagram, messaging the people with some authority over the affairs of the Park. As the moon rose and the temperature dropped, we refilled Goosey's drinks and headed home, hoping for a response in the morning.

First thing Saturday morning, @centralparknyc messaged via Instagram:

“We have seen a couple of geese next to the Reservoir in the past few days, and they are molting. Molting birds do not fly until the process is complete (between 2-6 weeks). The molt leaves the animal with new primary feathers for the migration period.”

Back at the Reservoir, we find Goosey close to the northern pump house. Since she was molting and unable to fly, it was clear that she was trapped on the Reservoir's running path between two continuous fences—the large 4-foot wrought iron barrier and a smaller vegetation screen. Without her flight feathers, our Goose could not find water. She was at our mercy.

We laid down a fresh container of electrolyte water and she drank it over the course of the following hours. Facing the water, she rested on the ledge to conserve her energy and waited as her companion Geese swam by.

In that time, curious, kind New Yorkers would stop to inquire and we would explain the situation, repeating the words of the Central Park team. When people realized the particular challenge that Goosey faced, everyone wanted to help.

“Should we pick her up and carry her over the fence and down the rocky ledge to the water?” we wondered. But she's a big Goose and we didn't want to injure her if she became restless or scared. One NYC soul jogged to the Police Building on the southern limit of the Reservoir to ask for help. She later texted that the Police didn't have anyone on staff who could assist us. Sargent Grant Wheeler from the Manhattan Borough Rangers called us back and confirmed that molting geese do get “trapped” on the innermost jogging path. We reviewed our texts and though we had earlier learned that the @WildBirdFund could not come out to meet us (they don't have the resources required for wildlife transportation), a friend in the crowd looking after Goosey called their friend at the Fund, an ornithologist named Suzanne, who decided to make the trip on foot.

Now, with nearly fifteen “best new NY friends” gathered together awaiting a rescue operation for Goosey, Suzanne was warmly welcomed when she arrived at the Reservoir. In her avian ranger gear and with the help of Tony and Grammy nominated actress @TheBethMalone, the two Sheroes carefully captured Goosey in a blanket. After a quick check-over to confirm that she hadn't been injured, Suzanne recommended that Goosey return to the pond. To everyone's amazement, @TheBethMalone stealthy scaled the wrought iron fence in one heave-ho to then receive the swaddled Goose from Suzanne. Beth delivered Goosey to the water's edge, laid out the blanket and stepped back. Goosey was still, likely stunned. But within a minute or so, she happily slipped into the water and paddled away.

There are many migratory birds in NYC's Central Park. The Wild Bird Fund is a volunteer organization that works to protect the City's magnificent birds—from White Owls, Egrets and Eagles to Canadian Geese, Orioles, Falcons and songbirds, not to mention the Red-Tailed Hawks and Great Crested Flycatchers, the Wild Bird Fund helps to heal, nurture and protect thousands of birds each year. They are committed wildlife experts who go above and beyond to ensure the safety and health of NYC's bird population. Their phone number is 646-306-2862. Their address is 565 Columbus Avenue. If you're inspired by this story or just love birds, I hope you'll follow them on Instagram @WildBirdFund.

And to @Vester.inc and Dr. Frank Akawi, if you see this, we are so grateful that you answered our call. Goosey was wobbly and exhausted Friday night and the electrolyte liquid you recommended allowed her to survive the night and flourish the next day as she returned to her home.

Thanks to all the New Yorkers who cared enough to stop, to make calls, to fetch help, to scale fences, to take time. NYC really is a close community of friends. You just have to look for it and they appear. XO 






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