Remember the good old days when we used to go down to Dead Creek and see the swarms and swarms of snow geese this time of year? Naturalist Bryan Pfeiffer tells Sharon Meyer, "It ain't happening anymore."
"Those of is who remember through the 80s and 90s, and the first part of the last 10 years, ..You know as the leaves were falling, we'd have these skies filled with white geese in Addison. And the State of Vermont created an area, where these migrating geese would stop, stage, feed, fuel up for the continuation of their migration."
"It was an annual right of fall."
"Well , these birds do have wings after all, and minds of their own, and what has happened is that their migration pattern has shifted westward, so the Vermont snow goose empire has now shifted a bit to the Empire state!"
"They're there? They're over in New York?"
"A lot of these birds are moving through New York now, and mostly for birds and migration, it's about food. It's about opportunities for food. And they have been finding more waste grains, corn mostly in some of these fields. So they've just sort of over the course of the last 10 years or so, really kind of shifted. And we no longer see....remember we'd see 10, 20 thousand geese there?"
"Now this is not to say that you won't see snow geese in Addison, still. Even in November. But the numbers are going to be down, there may be geese there, but they could be hidden back sort of in a depression. They kind of don't hang out by the road anymore, like they used to."
" Right next to the viewing area that we set up for them!"
"Yes, it was great. It was perfect! I have had a few reports of birds coming in close to that viewing area on Rt 17 in Addison, but not reliably. If you do go, you're best bets are going to be in the morning, or in the evening. These birds tend to move around a little bit and you can always just sort of hope that a bald eagle will fly overhead, because remember the eagles will send the whole flock up!"
"And they'd go up, and they'd swirl, and eventually they'd settle back down again. ..It was just magical."
"A lot of Vermonters are going to be missing this annual snow goose migration, it could be in the future they might move back again. You may recall that they are breeding up in the high arctic. All they way up, even some birds as far up as the western shores of Greenland, most of the eastern Canadian Arctic, migrating down the St. Lawrence Seaway, stopping in Vermont, on their way to wintering areas, basically from NJ into the Carolinas. "
"Some would say, is there anything we can do to convince them to come back? Or do you just not do that with wildlife?"
"Well, we did! Actually. We encouraged agricultural practices that would get these birds to stop there back in the 80s, and it also came at a time when the population of these snow geese was growing, very fast. And wildlife managers have been attempting to cut the wildlife population back a little bit. These birds discovered agriculture, they found grains out in the fields and it helped the population grow, particularly the over wintering population."
"So it's a combination of increased hunting pressure, just lower overall numbers of the geese, and we're not really setting the plate for them the way we used to. So they're finding the buffet over in NY so that's where they're going."
"Bring on the competition! Let's get them back!"
"Yeah, what can we feed them this year! Ha ha!"
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