Snow Geese

On our visit to Squaw Creek National Wildlife Refuge last Sunday, we saw thousands of Snow Geese. Growing up in the Midwest, we’ve always seen them from afar in cornfields or honking overhead in their classic V formations. But we’ve never been this close to them,

or seen such a large flock.

A little info about Snow Geese:

  • They can be either all white with black wingtips, or bluish gray with a white head. Juveniles are light gray.
  • They spend their winters in North America and Mexico, and their summers during the breeding season in Canada, Alaska, Greenland, and Siberia.
  • They mate for life, and females will return to the place where they were born to raise their own young. Within a few hours of hatching, the young leave the nest. They can feed themselves, but are watched over by both parents. They learn to fly when about a month and a half old, but stay with their family for up to 3 years.

They stop at Squaw Creek, and other places like it to rest on their annual migration.

We watched as some of them slept standing on one foot with their head tucked over their back.

Some did a little foraging.

Some were quite chatty.

This one cleaned its tail feathers.

But most of them simply rested.

Occasionally, something would spook the flock, and they would rise in a mass of flapping wings and raucous honking.

They circled over our heads trying to determine if the danger had passed.

We got a good look at their snow-white tummies and outstretched wings.

Their flight looked so effortless, and I recalled how as a child I would dream about flying with the birds.

Finally they decided it was safe to land again, and came back down to the water.

See their little feet hanging down?  They lower the landing gear long before they touch down. 

Snow Geese nearly became extinct in the early 20th century, but today there are more than 5 million, with an increase of more than 300% since the 1970s. Scientists think the numbers are growing at alarming rates due to the availability of grain in farm fields in their winter grounds, climate change, and a decrease in the number of waterfowl hunters. The population is growing so large that it is destroying its own habitat by overgrazing large areas of the fragile arctic tundra, and scientists believe that they are headed for an ecological disaster.

Efforts to decrease their numbers include longer hunting seasons, larger bag limits, and other measures.

The future of Snow Geese is troubled and unclear. Hopefully their numbers can be brought down to a level that is healthy, both for them and their environment.


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Cattle, corn, wheat, beans, mud, snow, ice, and drought. Plenty of fresh air and quiet. Our life is sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes joyous, but never boring.

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26 Responses

  1. Vivian says:

    What stunning pictures. The ones flying overhead look like angels. I have never seen a snow goose up close, but I once read a book called “The Snow Goose” which took place in England and part of it was about the battle of Dunkirk during World War II. It was an unusual story and I always think of it when I see pictures of snow geese.

  2. Stephanie says:

    Love all your pictures! Awesome sight. I can almost hear their sound… chatting, flapping, flying… 😉 Thanks.

  3. Lee Ann L. says:

    That is pretty cool!

  4. Elizabeth says:

    When I hear them flying over our place I always run outside to enjoy the sight but I have never seen one this close – amazing pictures. I think you and your husband should write some sort of little book maybe call it – The Beauty of Our Prairie – just a thought this morning….

    • Suzanne says:

      Hi Elizabeth,
      Harland has wanted to do a book about Kansas for a long time. Other projects kept him from it, but hopefully he will get to it some day.

  5. Laura says:

    Beautiful pictures – simply beautiful! I especially like how you provide all the extra information along with your pictures. I live in Kansas and have never heard of some of the places you have taken us to on your blog. You have created a desire in me to explore our great state a bit more. I’m taking notes of the places I want to visit so thank you so much.

  6. Joani says:

    Gorgeous photos. Luv the snow geese. Living in the west I’ve never seen one but thanks 2 U, I feel as if I have. Merry Christmas.

  7. Doe of Mi. says:

    Wow how exciting to be so close to those beautiful birds. I would love to be there. Wonderful photos and great info. Thanks.

  8. Michele says:

    Great photos! Beautiful close-ups! Sometime you should share with us some of your photography skills and tips.

  9. Suzanne,

    Wow, wow, and wow. Oh my – I don’t have an adjective other than GORGEOUS to describe your photos! Wow. 😀

    Re: Images in the sidebar…

    It’s the “image” widget. Believe me, it took me a while to figure out. You’ll need to upload the photo you want to use into your media library. The media library will then give you a URL for your photo and that’s the photo you link to in the image widget. It also allows you to put a link URL for linking to other pages on your blog. Does that make sense?

    If not, you can also go to for an explanation of how to do it.

    Now it’s my turn… I’m also dying of envy. How did you get Related Posts (with pictures) to come up at the end of each of your posts? I’ve also scoured my widgets page and can’t figure that out.

  10. Julie says:

    Such wonderful pictures…I really never thought about snow geese that much. Glad you shared!

  11. Teresa says:

    They are beautiful birds, and your pictures are just gorgeous! I hope things balance out for them–of course, Mother Nature has a way of reducing the population back to manageable size.

    • Suzanne says:

      Hi Teresa,
      Oh Thank you. Glad you liked them. And I’m sure you’re right about Mother Nature. She always does a better job that we do.

  12. Nance says:

    I have seen this in Iowa, either the geese going in the fall or coming in the spring. It is awesome! But I’ve never photographed it as you have. Your photos are awesome!

    • Suzanne says:

      Hi Nance,
      Thank you! I’ve never been able to get this close to them. Off a refuge, they are really skittish. It was great fun to be so near them.

  13. Blond Duck says:

    Popped in to say hi! I love all the geese!

  14. wow – those pictures are amazing! So beautiful!

  15. OH MY GOODNESS! I cannot believe how many of them there were! That is a huge flock! I am amazed at the photo where they all just took off and it looks like there’s one million of them! Wow! Made me think of the movie “The Birds”! What great shots you got too! Fantastic!!!

    • Suzanne says:

      Hi Bonnie,
      I felt like I was in the movie, The Birds. Ha. And they were so loud. They chatter away all the time, especially when they take off and land. It’s deafening.

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