Sunday, November 18, 2012

Snow Geese!

Snow geese, Chen caerulescens. Click to enlarge. 
Snow geese are migrating now. They have spent the summer breeding above the timberline in northern Canada and Alaska, Greenland, and Siberia. Now they are heading to warmer places: southern British Columbia, southern North America, and Mexico.

Snow geese are white with black wingtips.
They have pink bills with a dark line, sometimes called black lips.
To call snow geese gregarious is an understatement; some flocks contain several hundred thousand individuals. When they land, they can cover the ground like a sudden snowfall. But I like them best when they are flying. Standing near a big flock as it takes wing is such a sweeping phenomenon it is like being in their world: a honking whistling blizzard, a ticker tape parade of falling geese. Go see them at a wildlife refuge, marsh, or farm field near you. Click here to see a video of snow geese in the air. (If an ad pops up, click it away.)

And, from Mary Oliver  -- Snow Geese

Oh, to love what is lovely, and will not last!
What a task
to ask
of anything, or anyone,
yet it is ours,
and not by the century or the year, but by the hours.
One fall day I heard
above me, and above the sting of the wind, a sound
I did not know, and my look shot upward; it was
a flock of snow geese, winging it
faster than the ones we usually see,
and, being the color of snow, catching the sun
so they were, in part at least, golden. I
held my breath
as we do
to stop time
when something wonderful
has touched us
as with a match,
which is lit, and bright,
but does not hurt
in the common way,
but delightfully,
as if delight
were the most serious thing
you ever felt.
The geese
flew on,
I have never seen them again.
Maybe I will, someday, somewhere.
Maybe I won't.
It doesn't matter.
What matters
is that, when I saw them,
I saw them
as through the veil, secretly, joyfully, clearly.

The pictures in the blog were taken at Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge in Oceanville, New Jersey, near Atlantic City. 


  1. Beautiful photos Julie! I hope this new post means that you and yours are safe after the storm.

    1. Thanks, Christy. We got off easy with the loss of a few trees. Just hoping everyone else around here gets back on their feet soon.