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Friday, December 28, 2012 at 9:09 am

Canada geese: natural barometers stay one step ahead of the weather

post by JIM NIGRO in Canada geese, nature, outdoors, wild turkeys

I never tire of watching and listening to Canada geese, whatever stage of flight they're in, whether passing overhead at treetop level or applying the brakes like the trio pictured above.

The weather services weren't the only ones who knew a storm was coming. Wednesday, only hours before the snow began to fall, large numbers of geese began descending onto this field of cut corn.

Like all wildlife, geese are great natural barometers, always aware of imminent weather changes.

The time period just prior to inclement weather often triggers a good deal of movement. The entire time I watched, the descent of geese never let up...flock after flock dropped out of the sky like gangbusters.

In a setting reminiscent of what was perhaps waterfowling's greatest tragedy of the 20th Century, this pic reminds me of a painting titled "The Winds of Hell," depicting a scene from the Armistice Day storm of 1940. On that day ducks and geese by the thousands were pouring into the backwater sloughs and marshes along a stretch of the Mississippi River...they were seeking shelter from a coming storm, a storm that would catch waterfowlers unprepared and cost many lives. 

Despite Wednesday's storm and present cold temps, I saw numerous flocks passing overhead, none of which were so high they would appear to be in migratory flight. Maybe they'll stick around...I have no doubt they know more about the long-range forecast than the rest of us.

Geese weren't the only feathered critters getting in a major feed prior to the storm...a dozen or more turkeys were feeding in the far end of the same field. 

Frozen ground and a bit of snow would not deter the turkeys from getting in one last feed before a thick blanket of white would make foraging all but impossible.

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