One of the signs that winter is on it's way out is the annual congregation of Lesser Snow Geese in the area around Delta. Each February thousands of these beautiful white birds use the fields and waters between Clear Lake Wildlife Management Area and Delta as a rest stop on their northern migration.
The geese spend the winter around the Imperial Valley in southern California. Here they feed and prepare for the trip north. In early February they begin to fly north usually arriving at Delta around the 18th of the month. By mid march most of them have moved on and arrive at breeding sites on the Anderson River in mid to late May.
Although snow geese reach maturity at 2 years of age, most of them do not breed until their 3rd year. At that time they will lay between 2 and 10 eggs with most nests having 5 or less. Females do almost all of the incubating while the males stand guard to ward off other geese and predators. Females rarely leave the nest and will lose up to 25% of their body weight while nesting. The eggs hatch in 19 to 24 days.
The female broods the young for about 3 weeks after which both parents will lead the brood on swimming and feeding forays daily. The young geese start making short flights at about 35 days and are fully fledged at about 45 days. By the end of August they are ready to begin the trip south to California. In July and August the adults molt their feathers and are unable to fly. However, they grow new ones and are ready to fly by the end of August.
Because of the dedication of the parents, snow geese are remarkably successful nesters. However, about 50% of the young geese do not survive to return to the nesting grounds.
The geese that congregate in Delta spend much of the morning and evening in the agricultural fields feeding on young shoots of volunteer grain and weeds. During the day they are found on bodies of water or laying low in the fields if the weather is bad..
No other site in Utah offers the chance to see so many snow geese in one place. The sight and sound of thousands of white geese in the air and on the water in such a concentrated condition has got to be one of the most incredible wildlife experiences available.
State of Utah - DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES DIVISION OF WILDLIFE RESOURCES
Quick Facts About Snow Geese
|Weight: 6 lbs (male) 5.5 lbs (female)
Wing Span: 35 inches
|Average speed: 50 miles per hour
Migration Distance: 3,000 miles at 2,952 ft altitude
|Color: Two color phases: in the "blue" phase, the head and upper neck are pure white, with grayish-brown to black body and in the "snow" phase they are all white with black wing tips||Voice: A high-pitched, barking "bow-wow!"
Diet: shoots and roots, grass, bulbs, insects, berries, grains, aquatic plants and invertebrates
|Snow Goose Festival Souvenirs
Salt Lake City Audubon Society
St. George Audubon Society
Audubon Society Tracks Snow Geese
For More Information Contact:
Delta Area Chamber of Commerce
76 North 200 West