March 16 , 2014

SUBJECT: 1.2 Million Snow Geese

I'm not quite sure how anyone can count 1.2 million Snow Geese, but that was the estimate given by Squaw Creek National Wildlife Refuge in northwestern Missouri last Monday. I had been to Squaw Creek once before in the Fall and seen hundreds of thousands of them, but I wanted to get there during the Spring migration when numbers can reach and sometimes exceed 1 million.

Although I will do my best to show you pictures and video of this amazing sight, nothing beats being there. It is a bit tricky to witness this however because these birds don't stick around very long. They are on there way to their breeding grounds in far northern Canada and northern Alaska.

In most winters, these birds start to show up at Squaw Creek in mid to late February (At least, during the past mild winters that we have had.) but this year, their numbers stayed quite low until just one week ago. As soon as the southerly winds brought mild air into the region, they started showing up.

I kept an eye on waterfowl numbers at the refuge as well as media blogs and bird lists. One week ago, impressive numbers of the snow geese started to appear at Squaw Creek and I dropped everything, packed the car and made a beeline to Mound City, MO.

Note to those planning on going: Between the birders and hunters, most of the local motels were booked so be prepared for this. I ended up staying in St. Joseph which was about 40 miles away. There are other motels closer to the refuge, but they fill up fast!


Snow Geese

Although most Snow Geese are white, some have a color variation called the "Blue Goose."


snow geese



snow geese



snow geese




Pictures are great, but video is better!
Click on the Vimeo icon to view from their website to see the full-sized video.


To close out this week's journal, I have one more video for you. Two weeks ago, with temperatures at -10 F, I did a time lapse of the night sky. I was hoping for Northern Lights, but there was very little activity to speak of. Nonetheless, it made for an interesting video filmed from sundown to sunup:


—Alan Stankevitz


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