On March 30, we were able to head over to Choteau, MT and watch the annual migration of the Snow geese. The weekends before it sounded like was their peak time but we were still able to watch some take off in the morning to go visit neighboring fields in search of grain. During it’s peak it sounds like they are well over 30,000 geese meeting at these ponds, on their way to breeding grounds.
There was an AMAZING sunrise that morning. The sky started to change color 45 minutes prior to the official sunrise time, the kids ohhed and ahhed the whole way to Freezeout Lake. At it’s peak it was splendid!!
Snow Goose hunting in the eastern United States was stopped in 1916 because of low population levels. Hunting was allowed again in 1975 after populations had recovered. Since then, their populations have continued to grow, to the point that some areas of tundra nesting habitat are starting to suffer.
The dark color of the blue morph Snow Goose is controlled by a single gene, with dark being partially dominant over white. If a pure dark goose mates with a white goose, the offspring will all be dark (possibly with white bellies). If two white geese mate, they have only white offspring. If two dark geese mate, they will have mostly dark offspring, but might have a few white ones too.
Snow Geese chicks are well developed when they hatch, with open eyes and down-covered bodies that already show whether the adult will have white or dark plumage. Within a few days they are able to maintain a constant body temperature on their own. They grow very quickly, with the males outpacing the females.
The creamy white eggs of Snow Geese stain easily. People can sometimes tell what order the eggs were laid in, just by the color of the shells (the dirtiest shells belong to the oldest eggs).
In wintering and migrating flocks that are feeding, lookouts keep an eye out for eagles and other predators. Upon sighting a threat they call out to the rest of the flock, which may take flight.
Snow Geese make epic journeys by air, but they are impressive on foot, too. Within the first three weeks of hatching, goslings may walk up to 50 miles with their parents from the nest to a more suitable brood-rearing area. Molting Snow Geese can outrun many predators.
Females forage up to 18 hours a day once they arrive at breeding grounds, but eat little once they begin incubating the eggs.
Food passes through the Snow Goose’s digestive tract in only an hour or two, generating 6 to 15 droppings per hour. The defecation rate is highest when a goose is grubbing for rhizomes, because such food is very high in fiber and the goose inevitably swallows mud.
The oldest Snow Goose on record, shot in Texas in 1999, was 27 and a half.
We’ve had a pretty busy week getting ready for lambing and doing some spring cleaning around our lambing sheds, double checking lambing equipment, checking ewes, plus normal family stuff and then we squeezed in an overnight trip to Choteau, MT. More pictures of that trip coming up soon…
But we’ve had some pretty wonderful skies this past week….
Linking up with friends at:
My white ram Ever, and his son Feykir… @ http://mymemoryart.blogspot.com/
A colorful bunch of Crossbills on naked limbs and a dreary day…
Enjoy your spring day!