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BIRDERS BLOG

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White Geese.

posted by CarlIngwell at
on Tuesday, March 1, 2011 

If you've never seen the Snow Geese at Gunnison Bend Reservior, or thousands of them packed in an agricultural field somewhere in northern Utah (I forget the name of that podunk town I was in), you are missing out.

In the spring and fall, Snow Geese migrate through Utah in huge numbers. Check out the eBird data here:

http://ebird.org/ebird/GuideMe?cmd=decisionPage&speciesCodes=snogoo&getLocations=states&states=US-UT&bYear=1900&eYear=2011&bMonth=1&eMonth=12&reportType=species&parentState=US-UT

If you look closely at the eBird data, you'll notice that sighting records are extremely high between the 2nd week of February and the 3rd week of March. After that, sightings are pretty much non-existant throughout the year (with a few hundred seen here or there).

Wait... I just said that Snow Geese migrate through in HUGE numbers in Spring AND Fall, and then after that I showed eBird data that shows HUGE numbers of Snow Geese in the Spring and very little numbers in the fall. Am I contradicting myself? Let me explain.

In the fall, Snow Geese make a non-stop migration from their breeding grounds to their wintering grounds (with a few exceptions). In the spring, Snow Geese make stops all along their migratory way. I'd assume that in their Spring migration, Snow Geese are storing up a ton of energy for the very taxing breeding season ahead of them (the last claim is very unscientific and probably very wrong).

Snow Geese are currently here, at their traditional stopover sites, in large numbers. Go check them out if you get a chance. It's one of Utah's really neat birding spectacles.

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2 Comments:
Blogger Tim Avery said...

Don't forget all the Ross's mixed in! Along with the Snow Geese a pretty decnet number of Ross's Can be found especially during Spring Migration.

And the area you were thinking of is Corinne, in Box Elder County. In the week after the birds depart Gunnison Bend this is the next major known staging are for these birds heading north.

March 2, 2011 at 9:26 AM  
Blogger Tony said...

You are correct on the migration timing. In the fall they move as quick as they need to to get to wintering areas with "cheap" food. In the spring they stage at one or two places along their route to build up fat and wait for the weather to improve. This is the same priciple as with Sandhill Cranes along the Platte River in central Nebraska where the largest concentrations (of cranes and tourists) occur in the spring as cranes stay for weeks at a time, rather than days as in the fall.

March 2, 2011 at 4:28 PM  

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