Goose Story Draws Flock To Web

CBS/The Early Show
About 120,000 visitors a month go online to check photos that show Carma and Jim as they go about their daily lives on a sixth-floor balcony of an office building.

Carma and Jim are Canada geese and they've been nesting for a decade outside the floor-to-ceiling glass windows just past the receptionist's desk of a local high-tech company, James Martin and Co.

GooseCam '98, a tiny camera attached to the side of the building, takes pictures of the geese which are flashed on the World Wide Web every 40 seconds.

So far, the pair, named for the company's chief executive and his ex-wife, seem happy to hatch their goslings -- seven of them this year -- under the eyes of 160 computer consultants and various visitors.

"People are always up here, smooshing their noses against the glass," said Ellen Buchanan, the company's director of marketing. "The closer we get to the time they hatch, the more they are here."

There have been, of course, the inevitable goose jokes. Some employees posted goose and omelet recipes on the company's internal network. And some executives who are avid golfers have wrinkled their noses at geese, which often cause havoc on the greens.

Nan Marie Sauer, the company's director of productivity, said that most employees of the buttoned-down company find there's something soothing about visiting the geese, and that they've been good for company morale and sanity.

"You sometimes forget that you're in the real world when you are staring at your computer," she said. "Watching out there and seeing the goose reminds you that nature is right here."

Geese are monogamous, and it makes sense that Jim and Carma are the same birds that began nesting on the balcony 10 years ago, said Kevin Winker, a former Smithsonian Institution ornithologist now at the University of Alaska.

"They do form lifelong pair-bonds," Winker said. He added that waterfowl such as Canada geese often nest at high levels.

The chicks, who can't yet fly, just jump off and float to safety. "They are pretty light and fluffy, so they don't sustain a lot of damage," Winker said.