Edmonton

Pecking order: Canada geese take over rooftop healing garden at hospital

A rooftop healing garden at the Royal Alexandra Hospital has been claimed by a pair of geese awaiting the arrival of their goslings.

'They're fighting for territorial areas and can be kind of aggressive sometimes'

Two geese seen by the water in Hawrelak Park, a popular hangout for Canada geese before and after nesting season. (Nathan Gross/CBC)

The rooftop of the Lois Hole Hospital for Women has unexpectedly become a labour and delivery suite. 

According to a poster seen at the Royal Alexandra Hospital, two Canada geese have claimed the Ted and Lois Hole Healing Garden as their home.

The garden is on top of the Robbins Pavilion, part of the Lois Hole Hospital for Women.

The fowl presence means patients and staff must try their best to avoid bothering the birds.

This poster was spotted at the Royal Alexandra Hospital warning staff, patients and visitors about the closure of the Ted and Lois Hole Healing Garden on the roof of the Robbins Pavilion. (Name withheld by request)

It is peak nesting season for geese, said Dale Gienow, manager of the wild rescue program at the Edmonton-based animal rescue WildNorth. That means the geese could be aggressive. 

"Just the last week they've started to lay their eggs," Gienow said. "Now, the incubation period is about a month. So, we're going to see babies in about three weeks time. Right now those adults are kind of agitated. They're fighting for territorial areas and can be kind of aggressive sometimes."

Canada geese are protected by the Migratory Birds Act. The federal regulations mean it's illegal to disturb a nest once eggs have been laid.

Wild North's director and wild rescue program manager Dale Gienow says the geese will move on in a few weeks but until then, he recommends giving them space. (Trevor Wilson/CBC)

"So, now that they're nesting and they're on eggs the onus is on us to leave them alone and let them do what comes naturally," Gienow said. "For those that are concerned that they're near your home or maybe they're at a construction site holding up work or whatever that may be in the city, rest assured that another three weeks or so and the babies will hatch."

Within two or three days of hatching the goslings will follow their parents to the nearest body of water, Gienow said, though the five-storey building would pose a challenge for the young birds. 

Rooftops offer protection from predators and people, but since the geese are nesting on a roof that's more than two storeys high WildNorth could be called in to remove the birds. 

The Robbins Pavilion (right) at the Royal Alexandra Hospital has a rooftop healing garden that is off limits to the public while two Canada geese wait for their eggs to hatch. (Nathan Gross/CBC)

"We'll dispatch one of our rescue team members who will actually go out and remove the babies from the roof, reunite them with mom and send them on their way."

Meanwhile, staff at the Royal Alexandra Hospital are holding a competition to name their new residents as they wait for the goslings to hatch.

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