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Taking Time to Look Up

Feb 28th, 2012 | By | Category: Features, Front Page

As my husband and I were returning to Elizabethtown from Hershey along Rt 743 around 5pm last evening, we watched in amazement as a huge flock of snow geese flew in waves over the highway. I wait for this show every year, as late winter brings enormous flocks of these bird to our area as they head back to their Arctic breeding grounds.

Snow geese live in the Arctic during the summer months, and begin their fall migration to winter feeding grounds between August and October. They spend the winter feeding in coastal marshes from the Misississippi Delta to Corpus Christie Texas. In late winter, they begin their return migration northward. Our part of Lancaster County is fortunate to be located along one of their traditional migration routes.

Snow geese migrate in flocks of up to 1000 birds made up of many family groups, at speeds of up to 50 miles per hour. Their average altitude is around 3000 feet, but flocks have been observed flying as high as 20000 feet. While most flocks stop at rest areas along the way, some will fly as long as 70 hours and 1700 miles of continuous flight.

According to the manager of the Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area in Kleinfeltersviile, the Snow geese population there reached 55,000 last week. Anyone interested in observing this truly amazing sight should pay a visit to Middle Creek within the next few weeks. Or just look up.

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