The Daily Star, Oneonta, NY - otsego county news, delaware county news, oneonta news, oneonta sports

Rick Brockway

January 4, 2013

Get used to seeing geese

I was in Jefferson the other day and watched flock after flock of snow geese flying high above, heading on a direct line south. Maybe that should have been my first clue that winter is actually here.

Anyway, my first thought was that maybe snow geese migrate later than Canadian geese, since they nest farther north. So I decided to research this idea. I couldn’t find anything to substantiate that thought, so I called a friend of mine who has hunted more waterfowl than anyone I know.

John has leased hunting rights in the northern swamps along the St. Lawrence and has hunted ducks and geese all the way to Chesapeake Bay. He told me that all geese migrate south at about the same time. Many of the huge flocks we see are snows while others are Canadians. Most of us are unable to tell the difference from a distance.

Snow geese and blue geese are the same bird, only in a different color phase. Both have pink legs, feet and bills.

The snow goose has a stark-white body with black wingtips. The pink bill also has a black “grin patch,” or black lips. Without it, the bird is a Ross’s goose, which is just a little smaller.

The blue goose is a dark color morph of the snow goose. It has a white head and bluish-gray body. Approximately one out of every 100 snow geese are blue phase and for some reason, they usually stick together.

Actually, the blue goose is quite prejudice. Studies show they normally mate only with another blue goose. If they mate with a snow goose, chances are their parents were mixed as well. Like other geese, snow and blue geese usually mate for life.

There are greater and lesser snow geese, too. Only the greater snow goose flies down the Atlantic flyway, which includes this area.

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Rick Brockway

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