Geese With Ice-Covered Beaks Get a Helping Hand From Humans

A Canada goose with a frozen beak in Toronto's Bluffer's Park. Ann Brokelman

Bluffer's Park in Toronto offers stunning lookouts from the city's Scarborough Bluffs, along with picnic and beach areas for people and wildlife to enjoy.

The park experienced seasonably cold weather last week, with high temperatures barely rising above freezing. That can be enough to steer away many humans, and some wildlife at the park also had a rough time coping with the cold. A few birds even found their beaks frozen over with ice, and were unable to get it off.

Luckily, some humans were on hand to help.

Ann Brokelman is a wildlife photographer and teacher in Toronto who helps various animal welfare organizations in the city, including Shades of Hope Wildlife Refuge and the Toronto Wildlife Center. Judy Wilson, a colleague of Brokelman's, called her to report something rather odd she saw while visiting the park.

"[Judy] goes to the park to check on wildlife and birds," Brokelman tells MNN in an email. "She called me saying there was a mallard duck with ice on its beak, could I help? [I] told her to call the Toronto Wildlife Center."

A goose with a frozen beak looks right at the camera
It's unclear how the geese and the duck ended up with frozen beaks. Ann Brokelman

Brokelman made her way to the park, where she found six geese and one duck with their beaks encased in ice. She and Wilson contacted the TWC rescue chief, and after seeing their photos, the TWC told them someone would soon be on the way.

While waiting for help to arrive, Brokelman and Wilson followed the geese around the park. Brokelman picked one up and attempted to remove the ice. When that didn't work, she asked Wilson to take the goose to her car. After placing a towel over the goose's head and tucking the bird against her body, Wilson managed to pop off the ice in about 15 minutes.

"The ice fell off in one piece," Brokelman says.

When TWC rescuers arrived, they declared the goose healthy and safe to release.

A piece of ice that popped off a goose's beak
In some cases, the ice covering the beaks simply came off in one piece. Ann Brokelman

The duck managed to get rid of its ice by attempting to eat some corn, Brokelman says, pecking hard enough at the ground that it split the ice over its beak.

Brokelman reports that all six geese and the duck were fine in the end.