Rounding a bend on a snowy river delta in winter, you see farmland covered in white. It seems surreal, as if the artist Andy Goldsworthy has floated a huge duvet across the landscape. Snow Geese, thousands of them! Snow Geese winter far south of where they nest - on Wrangell Island in Russia, north and west of the Bering Sea. You can learn more about Snow Geese at Cornell's All About Birds. Take a field trip with your local Audubon chapter to see what you can see.
Blanket of Snow Geese
By Frances Wood
This is BirdNote!
[“Baying” of large flock of Snow Geese]
[Sounds of Snow Geese]
Snow Geese. Rounding a bend, you see emerald-green farmland covered in white. It seems surreal, like the artist Andy Goldsworthy has floated a huge duvet across the landscape.
As you drive closer, the sounds increase, and the white quilt parses out into individual shapes. [Sounds of Snow Geese] Stopping, you notice the geese moving in your direction. Groups of several hundred lift from the back of the flock, swirl up and over the geese in front, and then settle again to grub for underground roots and forage for plant-shoots.
As you sit in awe, the flock of five thousand birds gradually makes its way to the edge of the road, and you can see clearly the white bodies with black wing- and tail-feathers. Black markings on orange bills appear to “smile” as the geese stretch their heads above rounded backs.
Then a small flock lifts up and flies directly over your car, landing in the field on the other side. More geese flutter up and over, in front and behind. Like riding through an automated carwash, you are enveloped in swishing, calling, flapping feathers—a blizzard of Snow Geese. [Sounds of Snow Geese]
You’ll find a photo of Snow Geese by photographer Paul Bannick, when you visit our website, BirdNote.org. [Editor's note: Sorry! Unable to locate original photograph by Paul Bannick.] I’m Frank Corrado.
Calls of the Snow Geese provided by: The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York.
Sound recordist: W.W.H. Gunn
Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Chris Peterson
© 2008 Tune In to Nature.org (orig 022205SNGOKPLU) Rev. for Feb. 2009