Snow geese rest near Baldwin
Thousands of snow geese blanketed a field south of Baldwin, near LeLoup, for several days last week, a location flocks return to year after year.
Baker University professor of biology Cal Cink said it is not unusual for snow geese which can be a white or a "blue" color to migrate in groups of up to 100,000-200,000. He saw several flocks of 2,000-3,000 flying over Baldwin last week.
"All these birds will wintering at the Gulf Coast," said Cink. "The last couple of days we have seen more geese, because of the winter weather in the north."
Cink said the snow geese that fly over Kansas more than likely came from the Hudson Bay area, and probably made a stop in South Dakota or Nebraska before resting here. He said the field they chose for their break is flat with a good view of the surrounding areas, which makes watching for predators easier.
After resting for a few days, the geese will continue their southward migration if flying weather is good. In the Kansas City area, Operation Wildlife has responded to several citizens finding ducks and geese in yards apparently weighed down by ice on their wings and too exhausted to fly.
The diet of snow geese is made up of vegetation. However, because of a rapid increase in the population of snow geese, vegetation can be scarce.
"The population of snow geese has increased so dramatically, the geese are actually starving themselves to death on the northern tundra," Cink said. "They graze so heavily, there just isn't enough food."
Snow geese with evidence of stunted growth have even been found. To help control the population, hunters are allowed to bag more snow geese during an extended hunting season, Cink said.