Fox River Goose Check

by Carl Strang

I have not had much time to check Canada goose roosts in DuPage County this winter. On the surface, at least, it appears that the pattern of recent years has been repeated, with severe cold freezing up most of the roosts in December (Hidden Lake exceptional) and pushing most geese out of the county. On New Year’s Day I found the Blackwell and McDowell roosts still empty despite being newly re-opened by a thaw. Remembering my observations at the Fox River last year, I drove out there on the morning of the 2nd. I found no large roosts, but there were numbers of geese in smaller groups along the river’s edge. At Red Oak Nature Center, a couple hundred birds could be seen.

Canada geese rest on ice at the edge of the Fox River while floes pass on a cold morning.

I was impressed by common mergansers as they dodged the newly formed ice floes and dove after fish in the frigid river.

Common mergansers stay close to the edge of open water in winter.

Another place I found geese both last year and this was at Glenwood Park Forest Preserve just south of Batavia.

Several hundred geese lined the shore across from Glenwood Park Forest Preserve.

People have been reporting bald eagles along the Fox River all winter, so it was invigorating, if not surprising, to have one perch nearby as I surveyed the geese.

One of the more positive developments of recent decades has been the increase in bald eagle numbers.

As far as I can tell, these geese are feeding mainly in Kane County, and so I am limited in what I can learn in DuPage for now.

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