Ice, Snow, and Geese

by Carl Strang

 

Since the initial impressions of DuPage County’s wintering Canada geese that I reported at the beginning of December, we have experienced some cold weather and a period when a few inches of snow covered the ground. The cold was sufficient to freeze some of the lakes and ponds where geese were roosting. In some cases this led to at least a temporary abandonment, for instance of roosts at Rice Lake (Danada Forest Preserve) and Herrick Lake. The number at the South Blackwell roost at least doubled from its November count of approximately 1000, presumably through the addition of birds from abandoned roosts such as those noted.

 

cg-herrick-2b

 

Earlier the geese had no trouble finding food (those in the above photo simply walked up from their then roost on Herrick Lake into the picnic ground to graze), but when the snow was deep there were fewer choices. All the geese I had observed prior to the snow were grazing the mowed lawns of open areas, and had seeming limitless places to go. Increasingly, easy grazing was limited to south facing slopes and hilltops where the snow was thinner and melted away first. The South Blackwell geese, now numbering at least 2-3,000, poured into the harvested agricultural fields of nearby St. James Farm.

 

I have been driving around the county seeking additional roosts, and my next entry in this series will list the ones I have found.

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