Sunday, October 08, 2006
Vermont's Snow Geese in October
A flock of several hundred brilliant white geese with black wing tips dropping from the sky into a large field is a sight you will never forget. In New England, Vermont is the only place where you can regularly see thousands of these spectacular birds resting and feeding during their southward migration in the fall.
The Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department's Dead Creek Wildlife Management Area on Route 17, about a mile west of Route 22A in Addison, is by far the best place to see Vermont's snow geese. Fish & Wildlife constructed a viewing area off the highway with exhibits explaining the life story of snow geese and other birds frequenting the area.
As many as 10,000 to 20,000 greater snow geese will stop there in October and early November with numbers normally reaching their peak during mid-October.
The Champlain Valley is a primary migration route for greater snow geese. These birds nest in the eastern Canadian Arctic and stop during migration on the St. Lawrence River in Quebec. Their migration then takes them on a flight down the Richelieu River and Champlain Valley to their wintering grounds along coastal marshes stretching from New Jersey to North Carolina.
Greater snow geese (Anser carulescens atlanticus) are about a pound heavier than their smaller cousins, the lesser snow geese (A.c. carulescens) that use the Mississippi, Central and Pacific flyways. Also, the blue color phase so common in the lesser snow goose population is rare in greater snow geese. Greater snow geese nest in the eastern Canadian Arctic on Baffin, Bylot, Axel Heiberg and Ellesmere Islands, and along the westerly tip of Greenland.
Greater snow goose populations are monitored annually through spring aerial photographic counts along the St. Lawrence River. Their numbers have grown dramatically in recent years from 100,000 in 1970 to one million.
During spring migration, snow geese usually pass quickly through Vermont in late March and early April on their way to the St. Lawrence Valley.
The sight of thousands of snow geese at Dead Creek in October is one of the most exciting wildlife spectacles you can find in the Northeast. The Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department, which protects and conserves wildlife and their habitats for the people of Vermont, urges you to visit the Dead Creek Wildlife Management Area this October to see these spectacular birds.
Beginning the first week of October, Vermont Fish & Wildlife will provide a recorded telephone report on numbers of snow geese present at Dead Creek. The number to call is 802-759-2398.
Check out past peak dates for snow geese on Vermont eBird.