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Birds of a Feather

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One of the largest migrations of snow geese takes place right in our backyard

One of the largest annual migration visits of snow geese in the United States occurs just a few miles west of Delta. From Mid-February to Mid-March an estimated 20,000 snow geese stop for rest and nourishment at the Gunnison Bend Reservoir. 

This species of goose, native to North America, is all white except for black wing tips and under wings that are barely visible on the ground. An occasional variant is seen with gray/blue plumage. The birds leave the lake early in the morning to feed in the local farm fields and return to the lake mid-morning; flying off again late afternoon to feed in the fields before returning to the lake again. 

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The snow geese are on their 3,000-mile migration back to the Anderson River in the Canadian Arctic after wintering in southern California and Mexico. 

Even if you are not a bird watcher, the sight of thousands of snow geese in the air and on the water of Gunnison Bend Reservoir 

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is an amazing experience to witness. The birds leave the lake after sunrise to fly to nearby farm fields to feed. Typically, about 10:30 or 11, listen for the birds to return to the lake and you can hear them before you see them. 

When you do see them, the flock will make a pass over the lake before they land, which is usually more of a splash down. 

They all land within the span of a couple minutes. 

They will then float around in groups of several hundred with a few birds challenging the social order if you patiently watch. 

These birds are protected wildlife, and it is inappropriate and illegal to harass them. 

Late in the afternoon they will fly off the lake to local farm fields for their evening feeding. When they do take to the air it will be a matter of seconds and hundreds of very vocal geese are off the water and in the air. It is an incredible wildlife experience with a sight and sound you will remember forever.

A few years ago, the Delta Area Chamber of Commerce and the Millard County Tourism Office 

realized that the snow geese migration could lead to a migration of tourists to area. 

They created an annual Snow Geese Festival the last Friday afternoon and Saturday of February. This year the event is scheduled for Feb. 26-27 at the Gunnison Bend Reservoir west of Delta. A variety of COVID 19 compliant activities are planned. 

For detailed information check out the Festival website at deltagoosefestival.com or call the Delta Area Chamber of Commerce at 435-864-4316. 

The Gunnison Bend Reservoir is less than a two-hour drive from south Utah County and the Snow Geese Festival is a wonderful family event. 

However, if you are a serious bird watcher or photographer, you may want to choose a date less crowded with people along the lake shoreline. (Helmick is a Serve Daily contributor.)

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