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Snow Geese Migrating

11-10-17 final snow geese2 049A7452The eastern population of Snow Geese, one of the most abundant species of waterfowl in the world, migrate in very large flocks from their high Arctic breeding grounds to their wintering grounds along the Atlantic coast during October and November. Their migration is characterized as a combination of long stopovers with rapid and distant flights between areas. Birds from the same breeding population use many of the same stopovers sites, or staging areas where they rest and refuel, each year. Here they forage and eat the stems, seeds, leaves, tubers and roots of grasses, sedges, rushes in addition to waste grains such as wheat and corn in fields where crops have been cut.

Most of the eastern Snow Geese stage on the St. Lawrence estuary and many then migrate over Lake Champlain and fly southward along the Hudson River to their wintering grounds along the east coast, where the highest numbers occur along the shore of Delaware Bay. Those of us lucky enough to live near a staging area keep our ears tuned this time of year for the sound of baying hounds, for that is what an approaching flock of thousands of Snow Geese sounds like. (Photo taken at Dead Creek Wildlife Management Area, Addison, VT)

10 responses

  1. Chris

    Mary…so these ae NOT the Canadian geese that everyone seems to resent for fouling (fowling?) their golf courses and public parks with their messy droppings etc?

    November 10, 2017 at 8:55 am

    • Chris, those ARE Canada Geese that have become a nuisance. Snow Geese just pass through, unlike Canada Geese that breed and overwinter here.

      November 10, 2017 at 10:04 am

    • I see I didn’t exactly answer your question. These (snow geese) are not the geese that are a nuisance!

      November 10, 2017 at 3:24 pm

  2. Barry Avery

    I had the opportunity to see them migrating down the Missouri River near Omaha years ago, and there was a landing zone just across the River so we went over there early one Sunday morning before they took flight and stood underneath tens of thousands of them as they took off. It was an unbelievable experience.

    November 10, 2017 at 9:35 am

  3. Peggy Timmerman

    So beautiful! Thanks for sharing such a great photo.

    November 10, 2017 at 10:58 am

  4. Alice Pratt

    Pretty birds with their black wing tips ( wonder why this just got to my inbox at 5pm?)

    November 10, 2017 at 5:09 pm

  5. Is this a recent photo? I had read that the numbers of geese visiting Dead Creek are down due to lack of forage. Has this been your experience?

    November 10, 2017 at 7:42 pm

    • Yes and yes, Eliza. The photo was taken last week. I was lucky – it’s hit or miss these days. Roughly 3,000 birds there this year as opposed to 30,000 when I first started going to Dead Creek 40+ years ago. Numbers were so high they increased hunting, etc. to decrease the population. Lots of damage to breeding grounds due to high numbers, apparently. Now it’s stabilized – we’ll probably never see them again in the numbers we used to.

      November 10, 2017 at 9:06 pm

      • Thanks, Mary. I wondered about that. It would have been something to see back then.

        November 10, 2017 at 10:10 pm


    HI,A great place to see thousands upon thousands of the snow geese in MD is on the eastern shore at Blackwater National Wildlife refuge. When I lived in MD, I went there every Nov. or Dec. to witness this amazing natural spectacle. It sure was a treat! There are usually also good number of bald eagles. Carol Beyna

    November 11, 2017 at 1:31 pm

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