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North Dakota Outdoors - Snow Geese

Shh -- There are thirty thousand snow geese right over this dike.

[Lex] Snow geese are migratory birds. They spend the winters in Louisiana and Texas and their summers far north in Canada, but they pass through North Dakota each spring and fall on their annual migrations. As many as two million birds may cross the state in October and November and a lot of the geese stop right here on the J. Clark Salyer refugee south of Bottineau.

Right now on J. Clark Salyer refuge we are looking at probably a hundred-thousand snow geese, maybe a hundred and fifty thousand snow geese. That can kind of depend -- a lot of birds can move in over night.

[Lex] Snow geese are, to put it mildly, social animals. They gather in groups of 20,000, 30,000, and even more. When they come off the water it doesn't just seem like birds taking to the air, it is an eruption of wild frenzied life, desperate and determined to be.

And the sound -- listen. White noise. What a racket it is, but what a bold, relentless affirmation of life. Snow Geese sounds (121 K)

I could give you more facts on snow geese. They weight 6 to 7 pounds. They can cruise at 40 miles per hour. Heading south they may fly 1500 miles nonstop. They mate for life. They hatch 4 to 5 eggs and the fledglings nearly grown by fall fly south with their parents. They dally in North Dakota until the first big freeze or until the first big snow. Then they all may be gone over night running south.

They are basically gone the next day. So a lot of times we are looking at the end of October or the first part of November.

As many as a million geese can leave the state in 24 hours. An amazing aerial exodus. Sometimes when you see something like this you don't want more facts. You just want to sit back and watch and be amazed at the incredible, impossible furious pace of life.

Snow Goose Movie (419 K)

This is Lex Hames, North Dakota Game and Fish Department, dazzled, wonder struck, and in awe, out in the great North Dakota outdoors.