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home : columns : columns May 1, 2016

7/22/2014 12:19:00 PM
'Miracle' geese
Wendall Harris, buckaroo and gosling rounder-upper, in Fort Rock Valley. photo by Jim Anderson
+ click to enlarge
Wendall Harris, buckaroo and gosling rounder-upper, in Fort Rock Valley. photo by Jim Anderson

By Jim Cornelius
News Editor

This all started with a phone call at 10:30 p.m., just as my wife, Sue and I were about to call it a day. "Jim?" A voice shouted into Sue's ear, when she picked up the phone, "This is Wendall."

"You have Sue, Wendall," Sue replied.

"Hi, Sue, I got a couple of ducklings I don't know what to do with. Can I bring 'em to you?"

Wendall's a good pal who lives out in the Fort Rock Valley in a little house surrounded by miles and miles of sagebrush and sand. He's a great helper to us on the statewide Oregon Eagle Foundation survey Sue and I are helping to conduct on golden eagles.

Wendall's an all-around buckaroo who takes care of the old Godon Place several miles east of Ft. Rock. He's also very knowledgeable about the locations of hawk and eagle nests, which makes him a great help to other banding projects.

How it came about for him to have two ducklings in his possession, living in a house surrounded by miles and miles of sagebrush and sand, without a stock pond or irrigation project in sight, is beyond me.

Anyway, turned out he and his son were coming to Bend the next day, and we made arrangements to meet at the ODOT licensing building to transfer the ducks so I could get them to Elise Wolf, a licensed waterfowl rehabber in Sisters.

Later on in the morning, Wendall called and announced he was almost at the ODOT place and Sue told him I'd meet him in about 20 minutes. Just to be sure the ducklings wouldn't end up in my care - which would be a problem as I'm not a licensed duckling-keeper - I called Elise and she said, "Bring 'em on out," or something to that affect.

Wendall pulled in to the parking lot with his son, Delbert, and daughter-in-law, Christina. They hopped out of the car and Wendall shoved a box in my face, while Christina held her hand over the top so the little guys couldn't hop out.

"Looks like mallards to me," I said, looking past Christina's hand. Then, after some pleasantries that friends always share, Wendall packed up his outfit and drove off.

The deed was done in moments.

It reminded me of the time OSP called me years back that they had three baby flammulated owls they transported over from La Grande via one trooper's car to another to Bend, asking that I take them to Bill and Jane Stevens' for rehab. But then the next day OSP called me again and asked me to fly them back to La Grande and give them back to the researcher who noticed someone had stolen them from a nest she was working on.

I wondered if Wendall would call me back the next day...

Without any fanfare or OSP escort, I ran the baby ducks over to Elise's place and then, a miracle took place right before my eyes: The "mallard ducklings" turned into Canada geese goslings!

I made an error identifying the fluffy little guys. Wendall heard geese flying over his place that night. The next morning there were two-week-old goslings in his corral and pump house. Obviously momma goose just popped 'em out and they fluttered down for Wendall to care for.

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