Tuesday, April 23, 2013


May 11, 2011

“Kerwhack!” The loud sound broke the relatively quiet evening air. Whirling from the late evening watering and feed chores Sean asked “What was that?”

“It sounded like it came from the shanty.” I replied. Sean rushed over and shouted ‘Oh my gosh there’s a snake in Popcorn’s nest!” I rushed to the end of the nearly collapsed barn tin building that the white half Embden/ half Tufted Roman goose had built her nest in. She’d been broody for nearly 30 days, which made us both think “Gosling?!”

Shining the flashlight in I could see the four foot long king snake strike at the angry bird. What I saw next surprised me. Popcorn is normally a very docile bird. The least sound will make her run from the nest, so we’d been extra cautious when working around the area to not disturb her. The bird I saw now was an entirely different acting and looking bird.

Her beautiful blue eyes that are normally so patient and loving were filled with fire and hatred. The sleek, well groomed sleek white feathers were ruffled and fluffed out making her look twice her size. The slight knot on the top of her head seemed to have grown in size. She looked to be a very large, menacing bird. She was ANGRY! How DARE this snake even think about trying to get one of her eggs!

When the snake struck the twelve pound bird dodged agilely and then grabbed the snake behind the head as hard as she could then she shook it viciously, slung it against the side of the coop and then charged at the snake. “Kerwhack!” the tin building rattled again as the bird struck at the snake with her hard serrated bill.

The snake struck at her again. She grabbed it again while I called my husband to bring the snake removal equipment. By this time Sean had a long pole he was poking in from the other side of the shanty to try and drive the snake away. The snake was totally ignoring the poke of the stick. The goose did not back off and let the human defend her eggs. They were HER eggs and no snake was going to get them!

Popcorn flung the snake against the wall again, then charged “Kerwhack!” The entire shanty vibrated with her full body hitting the wall as the snake dodged and struck! Popcorn hissed so hard the snake backed up, as if he had just “heard” a much larger and therefore threatening snake. Popcorn charged again as Sean stabbed at the snake with the pole.

This time her grab was more secure. She whipped the snake back and forth making a low guttural sound as she flung the snake completely out of the coop. The determined snake, who was actually too small to eat a goose egg or a gosling, made one more advance. He was met by a mad Mama goose and a human that had, had enough of his nonsense.

As Popcorn charged again the snake quickly decided survival was more important than trying to eat a too big egg. Slithering out backwards as the goose charged the snake slid under the coop just as Gary arrived to try to help get the snake.

Popcorn followed it out of the coop to get in one last blow as the snake’s head disappeared out of sight. As my flashlight followed it I saw the snake was definitely injured. Popcorn paced back and forth “on patrol” for a long time before she went back inside the coop to count her eggs that are near hatching. None were broken. She quietly checked each egg, rolling it over and placing it properly for “bedtime” then settled in to keep those precious babies warm and perhaps bring another gosling into this world.

A short time later I was outside the coop Iwith the can of sulfur and was generously spreading it around the coop area, leaving only a small exit area away from the eggs soon to be goslings on the far end. My grandmother used sulfur as long as I can remember to keep snakes out of her coops. I can’t believe we didn’t remember to do it earlier this year.

The snake did not get away, we “smelled” its demise coming from under the coop this morning. No goslings have hatched yet, but Mama Goose, with the mongoose instincts, is carefully guarding her unborn goslings.

We’ve taken to calling her Mom-goose as a play on words. She has quit hissing at us when we get near her nest, as if to acknowledge that she realizes we were helping her protect her young.

Jan who has seen chickens, guineas and peacocks battle small snakes, but she’d never seen a goose battle a snake before in OK

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