Snow Goose Migration
The snow goose migration continues to be in full swing across the Mississippi Flyway. Last week, some birds moved south as snow fell across portions of Missouri, Iowa, and Illinois, but temperatures have moderated and the geese are moving back north. Success is being reported all the way from Arkansas to northern Missouri and Iowa.
Snow goose migration reports put the masses of leading edge adults as far north as NW Missouri around Squaw creek, Western Iowa and southeast Nebraska. Squaw Creek last week had it's largest snow goose survey of the year thus far at 1.25 million. The survey yesterday fell to just over 1 million. The snow line starts in central South Dakota and carries on north from there. The large concentrations of birds have some more room to move north to edge closer to the snow line, but they're probably limited on available roost water due to frozen lakes. A winter weather system is forecasted to move over areas where there is already snow this weekend so a large northward movement from areas already holding masses of geese is unlikely.
Squaw Creek Waterfowl Survey courtesy of the Midwest Region Refuge System
Further south, there are still good numbers of birds in areas of Arkansas and southern Illinois/Missouri. In these areas, the concentrations of geese sporadic. Hunters must do their homework by scouting and driving to find locations holding these concentrations. With the leading edge of birds, you could set up nearly anywhere. Towards the back part of the migration you have to spend time scouting to find exactly where the birds are roosting and feeding. It's a lot of work, but success at this point could be better than hunting the huge numbers of birds at the beginning. One thing that the Fowled Reality crew has noticed is the back part of the migration sill has quite a few adult birds mixed in with the juvies. Most years, the tail end of the snow goose migration is characterized by predominantly juvies in the flocks. This year there are good numbers of juvies bringing up the rear, but there seems to be more adults than normal. It could be due to the abnormally warm winter we had. Some adult snow geese took their typical southward migration to the gulf coast even with the warm temps and they're just now getting this far north and joining up with the juvenile snow geese that start their migration north later than the adults. While some other adult snow geese didn't go as far south as typical because of the mild temperatures. Regardless, huntable numbers of snow geese remain through these areas. The surveyed numbers in southern Illinois are just behind their 5 year average at 49,000.
Southern Illinois Waterfowl Survey courtesy of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources
The forecast for the rest of the week and into the weekend calls for seasonable to mild temperatures and mostly sunny skies after a chance of rain tomorrow. It also looks like a few days of good wind which we all know is key to killing snow geese. Good hunting conditions should prevail across southern Illinois after tomorrow and hunters should experience good success with proper scouting and larger numbers of juvenile birds coming through.