In the waning weeks of winter, keep an eye to the Missouri sky for honking flocks of snow geese (Chen caerulescens).
These medium-sized geese are mostly white with black wingtips. The so-called blue morph sports grayish-brown feathers with a white head, and white on the underside of its wings.
Watch for their bright, V-shaped chevrons – especially in stark contrast against a clear, black night sky – and consider the journey they’ve made.
These birds fly south each autumn, waiting out the winter in Missouri’s marshes, wetlands, rivers, lakes, and crop fields. By late winter they have begun their trip back to their nesting grounds in the arctic tundra.
Snow geese use their bills to dig-up and eat the roots of various marsh plants and have adapted to feed on leftover grains such as rice, wheat, and corn.
These birds also provide an important source of food – as a prey species for bald and golden eagles during winter months.
Find a conservation area near you to go see snow geese this week, and learn more about these birds with the Missouri Department of Conservation’s online field guide. Find more information on birding in Missouri with the Great Missouri Birding Trail.
Discover Nature is sponsored by the Missouri Department of Conservation.