Monday, February 2, 2015

Bird of the Day: Snow Geese at the Merced National Wildlife Refuge

I have to admit I haven't been following football much this year. I think there was some kind of big game today, seeing as how I detected a sense of despair and sadness emanating from the spirits of my Seattle region relatives. I took advantage of the afternoon by heading out to the Merced National Wildife Refuge to visit the overwintering birds.
There were birds of all kinds (look for lots of them in coming posts!), but the Snow Geese (Chen caerulescens) were just stunning. There are tens of thousands of them spending the winter months at the refuge.
The geese will be leaving to their breeding grounds in the far north in just a few weeks. In the meantime, they are foraging on the refuge wetlands and in surrounding agricultural fields to fatten up for the flight.
They roost in huge flocks, and there is nothing quite like the sound when they all take flight at once. They didn't do it while we were there today (and it's not really good for them if it is a false alarm; it uses unnecessary energy). To get an idea, check out these videos I posted earlier: or
It was a beautiful day on the refuge after a month of fog and gloom. We hope to be back soon!

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