Snow Goose Migration
The lack of snow cover across the mid-section of the country has pushed the snow goose migration quickly north over the past week. The leading edge of birds has already arrived in Northwest Missouri, Nebraska, and even a few reported in South Dakota. The Conservation Order Snow Goose Season is only two weeks old and the snow geese have made a huge jump north. Temperatures across the county haven’t been excessively warm and there hasn’t been a lot of days with south winds. Reports of good juvenile numbers are coming from Arkansas with many hunters having great success. There aren’t huge numbers of birds still in Arkansas, but if you can find them, they’re young birds that love to decoy. Further north into Southern Missouri and Illinois, numbers have fallen from their peak and juveniles are beginning to show up. The bootheel of Missouri has been reporting great success. The large numbers of snow geese can be found across the northern half of Missouri, including NW Missouri, and west central Illinois.
A good snow goose migration was noted on both Saturday and Monday. Saturday we witnessed large numbers of flight birds from mid-morning until late afternoon. This large snow goose migration was attributed to the large numbers of birds surveyed in Southern Illinois during the middle of last week. Carlyle Lake had nearly 150,000 on February 6th. Yesterday, they were down to just 3,000. Over the course of the past week, snow goose numbers in Southern Illinois have gone from 240,000 to just 20,000. The problem with the area we were hunting and really most of Southern Illinois is a lack of food. Most fields were harvested early and farmers were able to get their Fall tillage done. Combine that with the drought and poor yields and there wasn’t much food for migrating snow geese in Southern Illinois. Most of the birds we saw continued through the area and far fewer snow geese were seen on Sunday. Snow goose numbers at Squaw Creek NWR went from just 60,000 to over 1 millions in just 6 days. The leading edge of birds has some juveniles mixed in and there have been sporadic reports of good hunts on the leading edge birds that far north. Along with Northwest Missouri, Kansas and Nebraska are also reporting good number of snow geese.
In the coming week, the weather looks to stay seasonable so a mass snow goose migration north should be limited. There is a large storm system that looks to move across the central part of the US next week that could drop a good amount of snow across Nebraska and Iowa. If this comes to fruition, look for the geese to really stack up in areas to the snow line’s south.
What we have experienced over the past week is the large adult concentration have quickly moved north without a snow line to hold them back. They know it’s time to start back north, and they’ve made a quick jump. The younger snow geese are trickling northward as the snow goose migration continues. The lack of warm weather and south winds has kept them from quickly jumping north like the older birds.
Here’s an episode from last year that was shot during our trip to Northwest Missouri with ShowMe Snow Geese.