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Snow Geese at Tewaukon

3/23/2017:

North Dakota is popular stopover for migrating waterfowl. Even endangered whooping cranes make a pit stop here, but the migrating snow geese at Lake Tewaukon are one of the most impressive sights. They’d give Alfred Hitchcock’s movie “The Birds” a run for its money. The little lake and the sky above it become a cloud of white as hundreds of thousands of snow geese swirl and swim. The geese flock to Lake Tewaukon in March, usually around this time of year, at times totaling over seven hundred thousand birds.

The snow geese migration also marks the start of movement for other waterfowl. Ducks, Giant Canada geese, and teal show up at Tewaukon in early April, with shorebirds like sandpipers and plovers arriving in May. Bald eagles and great horned owls also nest in the area.

The snow geese’s journey from wintering in southern Texas to their breeding grounds in Nunavut Territory, Canada is over 3,000 miles. Stops along the way might include cornfields near Urbana, Illinois, sloughs near Cleveland, and the ditches along I-94 – small wetlands that are some of the first bodies of water to warm up in spring. In North Dakota, they enjoy a paradise provided by the state’s prairie potholes.

Lake Tewaukon is part of the Tewaukon National Wildlife Refuge. This hotspot for naturalists offers another spectacle in May and June, when it features a chorus of wildflowers.

Dakota Datebook by Jack Dura

Sources

"http://www.audubon.org/field-guide/bird/snow-goose" audubon.org/field-guide/bird/snow-goose

"http://www.fws.gov/refuge/Tewaukon/seasons_of_wildlife/index.html" fws.gov/refuge/Tewaukon/seasons_of_wildlife/index.html

"http://www.inforum.com/sports/3984620-video-500000-snow-geese-tewaukon-national-wildlife-refuge" inforum.com/sports/3984620-video-500000-snow-geese-tewaukon-national-wildlife-refuge