Don and Evelyn Black stand on the shores of Rotary Lake in Malone, New York, watching snow geese descend from the sky.
It's estimated that 4-thousand of the white birds are currently resting on the lake as they head from the eastern Canadian Arctic and make their way south to the Mid-Atlantic for the winter.
"They are just a phenomenal animal -- I love the migration," Don Black said.
"There are more snow geese -- more and more come every year," said Deb Miller, who lives near the lake.
The main reason for the increased number of geese in the area is a recent change in the bird's migratory pattern. "When you are a migrating bird -- it's all about food. You need food to fuel your migration, so they are stopping in the places where they are finding the most food the easiest, and places where there is adequate protection and places to roost," said Chip Darmstadt with the North Branch Nature Center.
The new path south means fewer snow geese will fly into the wildlife management area in Addison, Vermont this year. Only about 1-thousand are there now. That's down from about 15-thousand a decade ago. Wildlife officials say a change in farm practices in Addison County has led to less waste grain on the fields -- the main food source for the birds. And northern New York and southern Canada have more corn fields and larger bodies of water to accommodate the snow geese. "Whether they will be that plentiful again will be anyone's guess," Darmstadt said.
But for this year, a majority of the snow geese will call northern New York home. "They make a lot of noise, but we get used to them. We love having them here," Deb Miller said.
"I just like seeing them fly," Evelyn Black added. And Black hopes the snow geese will continue to fly back to northern New York for years to come.
Wildlife officials expect the snow geese to be around until early December.
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