Nene goslings grace Pioneer Park Aviary pond

A pair of nene geese and their goslings do the goose equivalent of mugging for a photo at the Pioneer Park Aviary.

A pair of nene geese and their goslings do the goose equivalent of mugging for a photo at the Pioneer Park Aviary. Courtesy photo

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Downy babies made their debut this spring courtesy of nene/Hawaiian geese that produced seven goslings, said Joanna Lanning, primary caretaker at Pioneer Park Aviary.

Native to the Hawaiian Islands, the Walla Walla pairs hatched their first clutch on March 3. The last three babies broke free of their shells on April 7. The new families inhabit the lower pond enclosure right now, Joanna said.

Nene geese are classified as endangered. Federal and state licenses with the Department of Fish and Wildlife, say the aviary can only sell them in the state of Washington.

For out of state they have a breeding loan program for breeders, zoos or other facilities qualified to have them, Joanna said.

Lucy Lu and Lacy, comely Canada geese, have attracted the attention of two lovesick Canada ganders, who hang out atop the large pond enclosure net where they keep watch over the resident hens, Joanna said.

“Their presence has resulted in numerous phone calls to the aviary with concern that the ganders are caught in the net. They are not,” she assured recipients of the Aviary newsletter.

“They come and go as they please, hopeful that they might magically be transported to the two lovely ladies that live beneath them.”

Volunteers are the aviary’s heart and soul. Earlier this year, Ranch and Home 4-H Club members Makenzie Frost and Leah, Ryan and Erin Chapin cleaned up rearing pens and nest boxes in both pond enclosures to prepare for the 2014 hatch.

Applying his handyman skills, Bob Vance constructed new nest boxes and repaired others to give the ducks secure places in which to lay their eggs. He also installed new perches in the pheasant enclosures.

“Some of the pheasants did not have any outside perches at all so this is a welcome addition to their homes,” Joanna said.

A team of 24 AmeriCorps volunteers spread sand in the pheasant houses, weeded, pruned, trimmed and beautified the entire facility on April 9.

Thirteen Whitman College Alphi Phi sorority members planted flowers, cleaned flower beds and removed sticks in the lower net pond on April 19. Whitman student Katie Gillespie continues to come in twice per week to help with daily chores. “Her presence is a delight and a huge help. What a difference the fruit of all these labors have made,” Joanna said.

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