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Where Do Snow Geese Go In Winter?

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Where Do Snow Geese Go In Winter?, Like a blizzard filling the sky, these pictures show one of nature’s most amazing displays as more than a million snow geese stop for a rest during their annual migration. The spectacular shots were taken by Mike Hollingshead in Squaw Creek National Wildlife Refuge near Mound City, Missouri. The geese must travel 2,500miles twice a year.

Every autumn the snow geese head from their main breeding grounds in central Canada to their wintering grounds in the Gulf of Mexico. The noisy birds migrate in unusually large flocks of 100 to 1,000 that are made up of many family groups. Biologists still do not understand how the birds decide when to migrate.

Male and female geese look very similar although the males are slightly bigger. Although a swirling flock of snow geese looks like falling snow, there are darker birds among the group. These blue geese, long thought to be a separate species, are simply a dark version of the same bird.

More than a million converge on the national park, which acts as an important stopover on the Central Flyway migration route. It is on one of the narrowest points of the migration route.

This year managers estimate 1.2million snow geese rested at the 11.5 square mile refuge. It used to be a private hunting area but now its wildlife is protected.

Some birds however have been recorded to make the entire journey without stopping for a rest – a flight of 70 hours. All the geese are less inclined to stop on their return north as they are eager to breed.

Routes used by birds are established because there is plenty of food and water along its length and few mountains or large hills to block the flyway.

During the flight south the birds fly between 40 and 50 miles an hour at around 3,000ft. However, some have been recorded as high as 20,000ft on radar.

They fly in an unusual undulating fashion often known as a ‘wavie’. The birds fly at different heights and rise and descend slightly on the journey. They also form imperfect Vs and while there is usually a leader at the head, this position changes among the flock.

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