The annual migration of Snow geese, as far as sheer numbers go, has to be one of the greatest wildlife spectacles in North America. They travel and forage in massive noisy flocks often numbering the tens of thousands. I had the opportunity to photograph Snow geese over the course of a week as they stopped to rest and feed in the agricultural fields in New York’s Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge. Snow geese follow a yearly cycle that takes them thousands of miles. From wintering areas in coastal marshes and interior wetlands in the United States and their summer breeding grounds on the tundra of the Alaskan and Canadian arctic. During the winter and migration, large flocks typically roost at night on lakes and in wetlands. They make daily forays to nearby fields where they feed on roots and un-harvested grain. One morning as I was watching a group foraging, thousands of additional geese began to arrive in large, noisy waves from their night roost on nearby lakes. At times the sky above was filled with birds arriving and slowly sailing down to join the flock. It was mind blowing to see them streaming for over an hour. The flocks swelled to close to one hundred thousand birds. When you’re close to one of these flocks you can’t help but to get caught up in the excitement of migration You can actually feel the restlessness of the birds to move farther north. I’d been there for four days and suddenly some unseen cue told the birds it was time to move on. I watched as they excitedly lifted off and continued on their long journey. [Snow Geese can be seen in many places across North America. Contact your local National Wildlife Refuge or birding organization to find an opportunity near you.] [Audio Recordings: Darryl Dahmer, Peter Paul Kellogg, Jonathan R. Storm; Photographs: Gerrit Vyn; Videography: Eric Liner]End of transcript
Massive Noisy Flocks: Snow Goose Migration
The annual migration of Snow Geese is one of the greatest wildlife spectacles in North America. Snow Geese spend winters in the coastal marshes and interior wetlands of the United States and find summer breeding grounds in the tundra of the Alaskan and Canadian Arctic, stopping daily to feed on roots and unharvested grain. Snow Geese travel and forage in noisy flocks often numbering in the tens of thousands and follow a cycle that requires them to fly thousands of miles each year. The flock is able to change direction rapidly because birds can mimic the maneuvers of distant flock members and do not wait for cues from adjacent birds.