I decided to start with something obvious, and something that is fairly easy to idea, and something that is only reliably found for about a month every year in Utah. The Ross’s Goose is a passage migrant that if you read Carl Ingwell post “White Geese” you would know pass through in the fall but usually aren’t seen because they tend to migrate south with fewer stops—but in the spring have two major staging areas in Utah. His post in particular was about Snow Geese; but with the Snow’s come a good number of Ross’s mixed in. From the middle of February through the middle of March is your best chance to find these birds, at one of two reliable locales. The first is near Delta, Utah which by now is usually “goose-less” (if not now in the next week). The location I am going to talk about is further north near Corinne, Utah just west of Brigham City, where the geese stage for a 2nd time before leaving the northern part of Utah on their northward migration.
Now Ross’s Geese are seen sporadically in the fall, winter and spring either alone or in small flocks at random locations. This is hit or miss on actually seeing them, which is why when they come through en masse it’s a good opportunity to see one (or 500) for the year.
After the Snow Goose Festival the geese abruptly leave and start showing up in the fields just north of the Great Salt Lake and Bear River MBR. They are usually here for a week or two before continuing, but it varies depending on the weather and food conditions. The upcoming weekend has in the past been a great time to head to Corinne to see the spectacle, a little bit closer and easier to get to than Delta. One place that has been good in the past is 6800 West and 1800 North. It may vary from year to year, so a little searching may be needed. And it is pretty much impossible to miss the birds once you find them as there could be anywhere from a few thousand to 10 or 15,000.
Separating a Ross’s Goose from a Snow Goose may leave some people biting their nails, but it’s an easy ID. With the large flock you are going to see noticeably smaller geese. When you see these look at the bill and see if the base is a mostly straight vertical line or slightly bowed. If it’s mostly straight you have yourself a Ross’s Goose, if it’s bowed you don’t. See below: