Barnacle geese are born from driftwood. Or so they say.

October 3, 2014, 1 p.m.
barnicle geese

Barnacle geese born of driftwood?

So the legend behind these geese is somewhat, um, crazy. During medieval times, it was said that, "They are produced from fir timber tossed along the sea, and are at first like gum. Afterwards they hang down by their beaks as if they were a seaweed attached to the timber, and are surrounded by shells in order to grow more freely. Having thus in process of time been clothed with a strong coat of feathers, they either fall into the water or fly freely away into the air."

Well, we know that they aren't actually born as barnacles. Even though it would be a fascinating way for a bird to be born and grow up. But the real reproductive story of barnacle geese is still pretty amazing. In order to avoid predators, they nest up in cliffs. But to get their chicks back down to where food is readily available, the chicks have to take a tumble. A long, treacherous tumble. At just three days old, the tiny, down-covered goslings launch off the cliffs to follow their parents. Though most make it, many do indeed die in the attempt. It's certainly not an ideal way to start your life as a baby barnacle goose. But it might be better than hanging upside down from driftwood.

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