It was one lucky goose in need of help that was rescued by a passing ‘Christian’ last November.
Keewatin resident Christian Luciani was driving back to his rural home and had just turned off Darlington Drive onto Duffus Road when he spotted the Canada Goose standing on a snowbank.
He thought its behaviour somewhat odd as flocks of migrating geese had already departed south for warmer climes, so he pulled over.
“The bird started flapping its wings and one was hanging down, it couldn’t fly and I knew it was injured,” Christian recalled.
Not wanting to leave the bird where it was vulnerable to predators, he picked it up, tucked it under his arm and continued on to his hilltop home.
Christian put it in the bathroom and then in a spare bedroom, first laying a plastic sheet on the floor, but he soon determined that the bird needed a home of its own as there’s more that come out of a goose than its honk.
Christian with help from his sister Claire, who recently moved to Keewatin from Eastern Ontario, spent “three, cold and windy days” transforming a spare room into a bird sanctuary, complete with a “doggy door” so the bird could stay inside or out to a pen as it desired.
They put in a heater to keep it warm as well as a mirror for company as they learned from its stay in the bathroom that the bird seems fascinated by its reflection.
“Maybe he thinks it’s part of the flock,” Christian laughed.
Claire went to her computer to find out what to feed a wild goose: bird seed, frozen peas, corn and sliced grapes. She also did an online search for a nearby wildlife rehabilitation centre but no luck.
The goose flourished in its new if somewhat temporary habitat, eating and regaining its health as its wing is on the mend.
Claire observed the special bond that developed between the goose and Christian as if the bird can sense that he is its protector.
“My brother has such a big heart and what he’s done is so humbling,” she said.
Perhaps an experience from Christian’s past explains why his first thought was to help an injured creature when others may have poached the bird for Sunday supper.
Twenty years ago Christian was 32 years old and working as a driver for Pat’s Outboard Marine when he flipped a company truck while making a delivery. The internal injuries he sustained weren’t apparent at first but soon became very serious as septic infection spread though his abdomen. Christian underwent a seven hour emergency surgery at Lake of the Woods District Hospital performed by Dr. Spielman. The operation stabilized his condition just enough so he could be transported to Winnipeg’s Health Sciences Centre for intensive care.
“The family was called in that’s how close he was to death,” Claire recalled.
But Christian recovered and after 18 days in hospital he was released.
“Dr. Spielman saved my life,” Christian said.
Although complications from the injuries linger to this day, he gets on with life the best he can, living self-sufficiently in his rural home, heated in the winter by an outdoor wood burning furnace he built and tending to his garden in the summer.
Christian accepts his humanitarian role in helping the creature regain its health as a matter of course.
“When I saw the injured bird and how helpless it was it reminded me when I was in that situation,” Christian related. “Now whenever I encounter anything helpless like that I just have to pick it up.”
Christian and Claire plan on taking the goose to their sister’s farm in Smith Falls to complete its recovery over the winter and release back into the wild this spring.