Wintering Waterfowl

During late fall or winter you will likely see and hear thousands of geese. These impressive flocks typically consist of three kinds of geese: Snow Geese, Greater White-fronted Geese and Canada Geese. There is a blue-form of the Snow Goose, too. This "Blue Goose" has a bluish-gray body, and a white head. Snow Geese numbers have increased dramatically in recent years, in spite of increased bag limits for hunters throughout the flyway. When feeding, they pull up plants to eat. Therefore, with the population increase, there is concern about them damaging the Arctic tundra on their nesting grounds and the croplands on their wintering grounds. White-fronted Geese are sometimes called "speckle bellies" because of the black markings on the belly. The white patch around the pinkish bill accounts for the name white-fronted. Its bright orange legs clearly identify this goose which nests in the Arctic and winters as far south as Mexico. White-front geese mate for life and both parents care for the young. Canada Geese come in various sizes. The largest race of Canada Geese can weigh nearly 20 pounds. The repeated refrains of nature, as demonstrated by noisy flocks of migrating geese, have inspired naturalists for centuries. Thoreau sounded envious when he compared geese to us sedentary humans, "The wild goose is more cosmopolitan than we; he breaks his fast in Canada, takes a luncheon in the Susquehanna, and plumes himself for the night in a Louisiana bayou.