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Illinois hunting and fishing

Snow geese fill the sky above Thompson Lake at The Nature Conservancy’s Emiquon Preserve. Photos by Chris Young.

Geese put on mid-winter show at Emiquon

January 18, 2013 at 03:50 PM

Prairie State Outdoors

When snow geese lifted off from The Nature Conservancy’s Emiquon Preserve Thursday, it seemed like spring had arrived a bit early.

But waterfowl scientists say it’s not too early for some snow geese to start arriving.

“Normally, my rule of thumb is Valentine’s Day,” said Aaron Yetter, waterfowl scientist with the Illinois Natural History Survey’s Forbes Biological Station near Havana.

“But to have them start trickling in, I don’t think it is too early at all,” said colleague Michelle Horath.


Illinois hunting and fishing
Snow geese lift off from Thompson Lake.


Snow geese, true to their name, stay within a short flight of the snow line on their way north each winter and spring.

That means storms or heavy snow could push them south again, before they resume northward migration.

“A lot of times they follow the snow line for a long time,” said Heath Hagy, director of the Forbes Station. “They will sit on that line and follow it as it moves north and moves back south during the spring. And the geese will do that too.”

At Emiquon on Thursday, A few Canada geese were sitting on the ice not far from the boat ramp at the Visitor Use Area.

Greater white-fronted geese landed just a short distance beyond the Canadas.


Illinois hunting and fishing
White-fronted geese stick together near resting Canada geese.


“The weather is one reason why most Canada geese are sitting in Wisconsin or northern Illinois,” Yetter said. “There hasn’t been any snow – or that much snow.

“They can handle the cold, they just have to be able to get to the food.”

Chris Young can be reached at (217) 788-1528.


Illinois hunting and fishing
Canada geese fly just above the icy surface of Thompson Lake at The Nature Conservancy’s Emiquon Preserve.

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