The 2020 Snow Goose Scoop
Breaking news on the Migration of Snow Geese through Vermont and New York
Summary Report – Saturday, November 28, 2020
Snow Goose numbers are holding in the low thousands in the Champlain Valley of Vermont and New York. At Dead Creek Wildlife Management Area in Addison, Vermont, the official refuge count stands at 4,000 geese, with birders generally reporting half or fewer than that. Dawn at Dead Creek could be your most reliable time to see flights of geese arriving to the refuge. (See the “Backgrounder” below for an explanation of why you might visit Dead Creek and not see geese.)
Meanwhile, the Lake Champlain shoreline in New York remains the Snow Goose hotspot, with birders continuing to report several thousand Snow Geese at or around Kings’ Bay Wildlife Management Area just south of Rouse’s Point and Point Au Roche State Park just north of Plattsburgh (where 2,000 Snow Geese were reported on 27 November). Geese often remain along the New York shore later into November (even into December) than in Vermont.
The eBird map (link below) shows specific Snow Goose sightings since November 1. You’ll need an eBird account to view the map (which I don’t believe was the case previously).
Anyone out looking for geese and crossing state lines should be cognizant of Vermont and New York’s COVID-19 travel restrictions. Note that Vermont has imposed mandatory quarantine for virtually anyone arriving to the state (including Vermonters who leave even for the day and then return). Vermont is also banning socializing, indoors our outside, between or among people living in different households, with limited exceptions.
A real-time map, from eBird, of Snow Goose sightings around the world since November 1, 2020. Requires an eBird account.
What happened to all the geese? And why you might visit Vermont and not see the thousands of geese actually sitting there.
A Blue Ross's Goose
My lesson on the finer points of Snow Goose/Ross' Goose identification — something that should help you become a better birdwatcher.
The Snowy Owl Scoop
A snowstorm of a different kind: tracking the fall movement of Snowy Owls across the continent.
Resources and Readings
Snow Goose – The account from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s All About Birds site.
Identification of White Geese by David Sibley – Help with telling Ross’s Goose from Snow Goose.
Dead Creek Wildlife Management Area – Vermont’s prime goose-viewing opportunity. The visitor center is open Tuesday through Sunday, 9am to 4pm, until November 10.
Geese Setting the Table for Polar Bears – The New York Times reports that a warming planet leaves polar bears with less opportunity to hunt seals. So they’re turning to snow geese chicks and eggs instead.
One Day, Two Ross’s – My account of seeing an exceedingly rare Ross’s Gull and the generally rare Ross’s Goose during a single day in 2013.