Milford Mixed Family 2019

The Kensington Metropark sandhill crane family that hatched and adopted a goose

This spring I was thrilled to finally meet the famous sandhill crane couple who had adopted a Canada gosling and were raising it alongside their colt. The blended family lived in Kensington Metropark in Milford, MI. The goose learned to be a proper crane, which presented challenges for him. When his much longer-legged sibling and parents walked through the forest, Goose got stuck behind large brush or logs, his stubby legs and webbed feet ill-suited for forest trekking. But his adoptive parents fed and protected him as their own. He took behavioral cues from them and they all seemed quite happy together.

Sadly, over the summer, Goose was found dead near a tree on the golf course in the park. Several people and photographers who followed the story have guessed that he might have flown into the tree or maybe he was hit by a golf ball. Maybe he just didn’t learn to fly because cranes and geese fly differently and learn at different ages. I don’t think we’ll ever know for sure.

But for one magical season, two species showed us that nature provides and forgives differences.