Watch These Chicks Go Skydiving Without a Parachute

Written by Sharon Parry
Updated: January 24, 2023
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In this heartwarming video filmed in Greenland, we see some Barnacle goslings sheltering under their mother’s wing on a steep rock face. Barnacle geese are medium-sized geese with black heads, necks, and breasts. They have a cream face. This species of geese is known for their noisy, yapping call.

These parent barnacle geese have built their nest at the top of some treacherous rocks and we get to see what happens as the goslings leave the nest.

Barnacle Goslings Without Parachutes

What seems like a reckless choice when it comes to nest building is actually the best way to protect chicks from terrestrial predators. The downside is that the parents now have five young chicks in a very high place, with no food source. Barnacle geese are herbivores and eat mainly grass. On this rocky outcrop, there is hardly any grass. The entire family is 393 feet in the air and the chicks cannot fly until eight weeks after they hatch.

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Think You Can?

Food is needed urgently so the father goose launches himself off the cliff and calls to the chicks to follow him. However, at this age, it is only the mother that can get the chicks to do what she wants them to do.

Of course, both parents will have faced a similar challenge when they were chicks so they know that it is possible to survive the jump! The gosling chicks are lightweight and padded, even so, your heart will be in your mouth as you watch the mother launch into the air and the chicks edge their way to the precipice. The mother calls them from the foot of the cliff and, drawn by the instinct to follow her, one brave chick chirps and then launches into the air.

barnacle goose

Barnacle geese are medium-sized geese with black heads, necks, and breasts.

©Dennis Jacobsen/

The Tension Mounts

The little chick flattens out and points their belly toward the ground. They also flap their little wings in an attempt to slow down their descent. Hitting the ground flat is the chick’s best chance of survival. But on the way down, the chick smashes against some of the rocks and their fate is uncertain. A second and third chick also leap but the fourth one slips backward off the cliff, falling headfirst and too close to the rocks.

One chick falls at the mother’s feet but the momentum of the fall keeps them moving and they slip over another precipice. The mother has no choice but to follow. Meanwhile, the final chick has a perfect launch and descent. After a rather undignified landing, they arrived dazed and probably a bit bruised, with the parents. The resilience of these chicks is mind-blowing!

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The photo featured at the top of this post is © Pim Leijen/

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About the Author

Dr Sharon Parry is a writer at A-Z animals where her primary focus is on dogs, animal behavior, and research. Sharon holds a PhD from Leeds University, UK which she earned in 1998 and has been working as a science writer for the last 15 years. A resident of Wales, UK, Sharon loves taking care of her spaniel named Dexter and hiking around coastlines and mountains.

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