How Long Does a Goose Sit On Her Eggs?


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Do you ever wonder how a goose manages to stay patient and dedicated, sitting on her eggs for weeks on end? But, how long does a goose sit on her eggs? It’s a marvel of nature, a lesson in perseverance that we humans can learn from.

In this fascinating article, we delve into the captivating world of mother geese and their remarkable nesting habits. Prepare to be awed as we uncover the secrets behind the duration of their incubation period and the unique strategies they employ to protect their precious eggs.

Join us on this wild journey, where we’ll explore the fascinating realm of avian parenthood and discover just how long a goose sits on her eggs. Get ready to embark on an egg-citing adventure.

How long does a goose sit on her eggs?

In most geese species, the incubation period lasts between 25 and 35 days. Once their eggs have hatched, goose mothers remain with their young for another two weeks or so to assist in their feeding and protect them from potential predators.

A goose typically sits on her eggs for about 28 to 30 days, but the exact duration can vary depending on the species. During this time, she diligently tends to her nest, maintaining the ideal temperature and humidity levels to ensure the healthy development of her precious offspring.

With unwavering dedication, she patiently incubates the eggs, rarely leaving the nest except for brief breaks to eat, drink, and stretch her wings. It’s an extraordinary display of maternal instinct and endurance, highlighting the remarkable bond between a mother goose and her unhatched goslings.

Related Article: How Long After Mating Do Geese Lay Eggs?

Is it normal for a Goose to sit on her eggs for so long?

It is completely normal for a goose to sit on her eggs for an extended period of time. The incubation period for geese, which typically lasts around 28 to 30 days, is an essential part of their reproductive process. During this time, the mother goose provides warmth, protection, and the optimal environment necessary for the eggs to develop and hatch successfully.

This behavior is instinctual and vital for the survival of the offspring. The mother’s commitment and patience in tending to her nest demonstrate the remarkable adaptability and resilience of these magnificent birds in ensuring the next generation’s survival.

The reason why geese are so protective of their eggs is that they don’t want to leave them unattended and risk the eggs being eaten by predators. Geese have evolved this behavior over time in order to ensure the survival of their young and future generations of geese.

With time, females have developed an instinctual need to protect their eggs and offspring; that’s why many females simply abandon them when they hatch.

How long until geese hatch?

After the mother goose diligently sits on her eggs for about 28 to 30 days, the eagerly anticipated moment arrives—the hatching of the goslings. This period marks the culmination of the mother’s unwavering dedication and patience.

The exact time it takes for the eggs to hatch can vary slightly depending on environmental factors and the specific goose species. However, once the eggs reach their developmental milestone, the goslings begin to break free from their shells.

The hatching process itself can take anywhere from a few hours to a couple of days to complete. It is a gradual and awe-inspiring event to witness. The goslings use a specialized tooth-like structure called an “egg tooth” to chip away at the shell from the inside.

As they exert their tiny yet determined efforts, they eventually emerge into the world. It is a truly remarkable sight to behold—the birth of new life as the fluffy goslings make their debut, ready to embark on their journey under the watchful care of their devoted mother.

How Long Does a Goose Sit On Her Eggs?
Goose lay eggs

How long will a goose sit on dead eggs?

A goose will typically continue to sit on her eggs, even if they are no longer viable or have become dead. This behavior is known as “brooding persistence.” The mother goose may not realize that the eggs are no longer viable and will continue to exhibit the same level of dedication and care as she would with live eggs.

This instinctual behavior can persist for several weeks until the goose finally recognizes that the eggs will not hatch.

The exact duration of a goose sitting on dead eggs can vary depending on the individual and the circumstances. In some cases, other factors such as environmental cues or the presence of other nesting geese may influence the duration of brooding persistence.

It is important to note that this behavior is a natural instinct for geese, and they will eventually abandon the eggs once they realize they are no longer viable.

Do male geese sit on eggs?

While it is not common for male geese to sit on eggs, there are exceptions to this general pattern. In some goose species, such as the Emperor Goose and the Canada Goose, both male and female geese participate in incubating the eggs.

They take turns, with the male taking his share of incubation duties while the female takes breaks to feed and rest. This shared incubation behavior is known as “shared incubation” or “shared brood care.”

However, in the majority of goose species, including the commonly known domestic goose, it is the female who assumes the primary responsibility of incubating the eggs. The male’s role typically involves defending the nest site and keeping a watchful eye for potential threats. He plays a vital role in ensuring the safety and security of the nesting area.

It’s important to note that the division of incubation duties can vary among different bird species, and it is influenced by factors such as environmental conditions and evolutionary adaptations.

How Long Does a Goose Sit On Her Eggs?
Goose nest

What Happens if a Goose Does Not Sit on Her Eggs?

If a goose does not sit on her eggs, the eggs will not receive the necessary warmth and protection required for successful incubation. Without the mother’s body heat, the eggs can quickly cool down and become vulnerable to various risks. Here are some potential outcomes if a goose does not sit on her eggs:

  1. Lack of incubation: The absence of consistent warmth from the mother’s body can prevent the eggs from developing properly. The embryos inside the eggs rely on a stable and optimal temperature for their growth and development. Without incubation, the embryos may fail to develop or die, leading to unsuccessful hatching.
  2. Exposure to environmental risks: When the eggs are left unattended, they become susceptible to the surrounding environment. Extreme temperatures, fluctuations, or exposure to predators can jeopardize the viability of the eggs. The absence of the mother’s protective presence increases the chances of damage or destruction.
  3. Decreased survival chances: Incubation by the mother goose offers vital protection and care to the eggs. By not sitting on her eggs, the mother compromises the chances of successful hatching and the survival of the offspring. The eggs may fail to hatch, or if they do hatch, the goslings may be weaker or more vulnerable due to insufficient incubation and maternal care.

In summary, the absence of a mother goose sitting on her eggs significantly decreases the likelihood of successful hatching and the survival of the goslings. The mother’s incubation and protective role are crucial for the eggs to develop and hatch into healthy offspring

How Long Does a Goose Sit On Her Eggs?
geese mating

Why Does a Goose Suddenly Leave Her Eggs?

There can be various reasons why a goose might suddenly leave her eggs, temporarily abandoning her nest. Some of the common factors that may trigger this behavior include:

  1. Predatory threats: If the goose senses imminent danger or perceives a threat to her safety or the safety of her eggs, she may quickly leave the nest to escape and protect herself. This could be due to the presence of predators such as humans, dogs, foxes, or other animals that pose a risk to her and her eggs.
  2. Disturbances or disturbances: Human activities, sudden loud noises, or disturbances near the nesting site can startle the goose and cause her to temporarily abandon her eggs. Even unintentional disturbances from curious onlookers or other animals can disrupt the goose’s sense of security, prompting her to leave the nest until she feels it is safe to return.
  3. Feeding and hydration needs: Geese need to nourish themselves and stay hydrated during the nesting period. To meet these essential requirements, a mother goose will occasionally leave the nest to find food and water. She may leave the eggs unattended for short periods to sustain herself before returning to resume incubation.
  4. Nest maintenance: A goose might temporarily leave her eggs to attend to nest maintenance tasks. This could involve gathering nesting materials, rearranging the nest structure, or removing any debris or potential threats that could harm the eggs or hinder the incubation process.

It’s important to note that while a goose may leave her eggs unattended for brief periods, she typically returns to continue incubation and ensure the well-being of her eggs. This behavior is a natural part of their nesting routine and is geared towards optimizing their chances of successful reproduction and survival.

How can I determine if my goose will be a good sitter?

Determining whether a goose will be a good sitter involves observing certain characteristics and behaviors. Here are some factors to consider when evaluating a goose’s potential as a sitter:

  1. Nesting behavior: Observe if the goose exhibits nesting behavior such as creating a nest structure, gathering nesting materials, and diligently tending to the nest site. A goose that shows strong nesting instincts is more likely to be committed to incubating her eggs.
  2. Protective behavior: A good sitter goose will display protective behavior, such as being alert and vigilant while guarding the nest. She may become vocal and assertive if any potential threats approach the nesting area.
  3. Consistent presence: Take note of whether the goose consistently stays in the nest for long periods. A dedicated sitter will spend the majority of her time incubating the eggs, with only brief breaks for feeding and hydration.
  4. Incubation posture: When the goose is on the nest, observe her posture. A good sitter will have a well-aligned body position that covers and maintains contact with the eggs, ensuring optimal heat transfer for incubation.
  5. Previous nesting experience: If the goose has successfully raised goslings in previous nesting seasons, it is an indication of her capability as a sitter. Experience can contribute to improved incubation skills and the ability to protect and care for eggs effectively.

Remember that individual geese can vary in their nesting behaviors and parenting abilities. It’s always helpful to observe and assess the specific behaviors and patterns displayed by your goose to determine her suitability as a sitter.

Do geese sit on their eggs all day?

Geese typically spend the majority of their day sitting on their eggs during the incubation period. Incubation is a crucial process where the mother goose provides constant warmth and protection to the eggs to facilitate their development. To ensure the optimal conditions for incubation, the goose will remain on the nest for extended periods, only taking short breaks for essential activities.

While on the nest, the goose maintains contact with the eggs, using her body to provide the necessary heat for proper incubation. She adjusts her posture periodically to ensure even heat distribution and to prevent any damage or chilling of the eggs. The mother goose is highly attentive during this time, monitoring the eggs closely and adjusting her position as needed.

However, it’s important to note that geese do take occasional breaks from incubation to fulfill their own needs. These breaks are typically brief and primarily for feeding, drinking, stretching their wings, and attending to other bodily functions. Once they have tended to these requirements, they promptly return to their nests to resume incubation and continue caring for their precious eggs.

Can I incubate the eggs instead?

It is possible for you to incubate goose eggs instead of relying on the mother goose to do so. Incubating eggs can be an exciting and rewarding experience. Here are some key steps to consider if you choose to incubate goose eggs:

  1. Acquire fertile eggs: Obtain fertile goose eggs from a reputable source, ensuring they have been properly handled and stored.
  2. Prepare an incubator: Set up a suitable incubator with proper temperature and humidity control. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for your specific incubator model.
  3. Temperature and humidity control: Maintain the correct temperature and humidity levels throughout the incubation period, as specified for goose eggs. The ideal temperature for goose eggs is typically around 99 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit (37-38 degrees Celsius), with humidity levels around 50-55% during the first 25 days, increasing to around 65-70% for the final few days.
  4. Egg positioning: Place the eggs in the incubator with the large end slightly elevated. This helps the embryos position themselves properly for hatching.
  5. Regular turning: Goose eggs need to be turned regularly to prevent the embryos from sticking to the shell and promote even development. Turn the eggs at least three to five times a day for the first 25 days.
  6. Egg monitoring: Keep a close eye on the eggs throughout the incubation period, looking for any signs of development, such as veins appearing through the shell during candling. Remove any visibly damaged or non-viable eggs.
  7. Hatching environment: Create a separate hatching environment within the incubator for the goslings once they start pipping (cracking the shell). This space should be slightly more humid than the incubation environment.
  8. Hatching process: Allow the goslings to complete the hatching process on their own. Avoid assisting unless there are complications or indications of distress.

It’s important to note that incubating goose eggs requires careful attention to temperature, humidity, and egg handling. Conduct thorough research, consult reliable sources, or seek guidance from experts to ensure a successful incubation process.


The world of egg-sitting goose incubation is a captivating journey filled with dedication, perseverance, and the wonders of nature. From the patient incubation period of around 28 to 30 days to the miraculous hatching process, mother geese exhibit remarkable instincts and unwavering commitment to their precious eggs.

Whether it’s the shared incubation efforts of some goose species or the sole responsibility of the mother, the act of sitting on eggs is a testament to the resilience and nurturing abilities of these magnificent birds. As we marvel at the bond between a goose and her unhatched goslings, we are reminded of the beauty and complexity of life’s beginnings and the remarkable adaptations that ensure the survival of species.

So next time you spot a goose on her nest, take a moment to appreciate the incredible journey unfolding before your eyes—the journey of an egg-sitting goose, a true marvel of nature.


How long does a goose sit on her eggs?

A goose typically sits on her eggs for about 28 to 30 days, providing consistent warmth and protection during the incubation period. This dedicated incubation ensures the healthy development of the eggs and sets the stage for the hatching of the goslings.

Will a goose leave the eggs unattended?

Yes, a goose may leave her eggs unattended for short periods to attend to her own needs such as feeding, drinking, and stretching her wings. However, she typically returns promptly to continue incubating the eggs and ensuring their well-being.

How long can a goose be off her nest?

Typically, a goose will take short breaks ranging from a few minutes to an hour or so to fulfill her own needs such as feeding, drinking, and stretching her wings. These breaks are necessary for her to maintain her own health and well-being. However, she generally returns to the nest promptly to resume incubation and care for her eggs. It’s important for her to balance her own needs with the responsibility of incubating the eggs, ensuring they receive the necessary warmth and protection.

Do male geese sit on eggs?

In some goose species, such as the Emperor Goose and the Canada Goose, both male and female geese participate in incubating the eggs, taking turns to sit on the nest. However, in the majority of goose species, it is primarily the female who assumes the responsibility of incubating the eggs, while the male plays a role in protecting the nesting area.

How long does a goose sit on her eggs after the first egg hatches?

After the first egg hatches, a goose will typically continue to sit on her remaining eggs for about 24 to 48 hours. During this time, she ensures that the newly hatched gosling is dry, strong, and able to navigate its surroundings. Once she deems the first gosling ready, the mother goose will lead her brood away from the nest, leaving any remaining unhatched eggs behind.

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