Natural History

Snow Goose

posted: 05/10/13
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SNOW GEESE, Squaw Creek National Wildlife Refuge, Missouri | ARKive Animal Profile: Snow Goose

Snow geese, named for their typically white plumage, are winter residents of the Great Plains. When spring is on the horizon, they are often the first wave to head north — a 3,000-mile journey to their breeding grounds in the tundras of Greenland, Canada, Alaska and the northeastern tip of Siberia.

Along the way, hundreds of thousands of them will congregate at a frozen lake in the prairies, where they must wait for the ice to melt before continuing their migration. At these traditional stop-over points, bald eagles have learned to take advantage of the geese's huge numbers. The predators work together to scare the geese off the slippery ice. In the chaos of the mass take-off, the geese collide and crash into one another, some of them so hard that bones are broken. Those left behind, unable to fly, are unable to escape from the eagles.

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