Gertrude had had it. The last two years of nesting had ended in disappointments and grief. With Gus, her mate, they had carefully constructed their nests on the banks of the Skunk River east of the Salem Stub. Using tall dried grass and reeds, as they had learned from the other Canada geese in their flock, they had built what Gus and Gertie considered to be respectable brooder homes.
That first year, Gertie even spied a maverick brown egg lying close to her nest, probably laid by an immature female not ready to nest yet, and added it to her nest of four white eggs. Gertie believed in adoption and diversity. As she was supposed to, Gertie rotated the eggs every hour or so, and added down to the nest to keep the eggs warm while she took her breaks. However, an unexpected flood washed Gertie and Gus’s nest away. Gertie and Gus flew above the Skunk River bottom over and over again, along with the other Canada geese that had also lost nests, honking and searching. But to no avail. Gertie and Gus tried to mate again that season, but their time had passed.
The second year, Gertie chose some higher ground, against Gus’s beak-clicking protests, and laid six beautiful white eggs. Gertie and Gus were so proud. But a marauding coyote on the prowl, discovered the nest. Gus, on guard, went into action with his broken-wing act in an attempt to lead the coyote away, and almost had the coyote fooled. But he was a smart old coyote, being much experienced in egg/gosling hunting. He had spied Gertie on the nest and, after realizing he was being tricked, circled back. After all, he had a mate and a den of pups to feed, too.