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Scaring Snow Geese

C. S. Williams
Publication Information
2 (March-April)
From Field and Study

Soaring Snow Geese

Flocks of Snow Geese usually move through the sky as if intent on keeping an appointment. The black and white of the wings enhance the impression of rapidity of the wing beats, and the incessant high-pitched honks add to the seeming purposefulness of the flights. On October 30, the writer was observing the feeding habits of Canada Geese on the Sallcornia mud flats west of Brigham, Utah, when he witnessed a marked deviation from the normal flight habits of Snow Geese (Chen hyperborea). A flock of 123 of the birds came soaring slowly in from the north, some 500 feet overhead, taking advantage of the air currents. They looked much like a tlight of White Pelicans, a species which the writer has observed on countless occasions on their breeding and feeding grounds in Utah, Oregon, and other western states. The small sizes of the body and bill and the forward position of the neck were, however, apparent through field glasses and precluded the possibility of the birds being pelicans. The birds made no effort either to gain or lose altitude, except for an occasional wing heat serving to keep the flock intact. They were unquestionably loitering and evidently were enjoying the activity. And to make the incident even more unusual, not a sound was given off by any of the birds. The flight was watched through field glasses periodically for forty minutes and during that time the ground distance covered by the flock is estimated to have been between 1 and 1 1/2 miles.

C. S. Williams

U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Brigham, Utah, December 5, 1941

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