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Outdoors: Snow geese return to area

If you’re a birder are you ready for the Great Backyard Bird Count being held Feb. 16 through Feb. 19?

This year, you can make bird counts at multiple locations - from any location - including your backyard, and report the bird species and numbers via eBird.

Where will you conduct your counts? Do you have a list of locations, or will you conduct or will you visit one location multiple days? Will you be birding solo, or sharing the Great Backyard Bird Count fun with friends or family, or attending a count event?

The Great Backyard Bird Count is now a worldwide event in which birders from 202 countries participated last year according to the Birding Wire.

Interestingly, a recent Birding News story in the Birding Wire reported that 35 percent of the American public are birders - people who closely observe, feed or photograph birds; who visit public parks (like Trexler Park in Allentown) to observe birds - including local state and national parks - and/or maintain landscaping and natural areas around their home for the benefit of birds. That’s more than 96 million people in the United States according to the results of an extensive recent survey conducted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. And as far as we can tell, all birders are backyard birders: We don’t know of any “field birders” who are not “backyard birders.”

We are all birders they opine.



In their annual winter migration from the Tundra, snow geese have arrived in the Lehigh Valley and thousands have set down on local lakes and quarries. When they descend upon a field or lake they take on the appearance of a snowstorm.

It’s a neat sight to behold.

The most recent sighting of several hundred that set down in the harvested cornfield owned by GES (Trojan Powder Co.) on Mauch Chunk Road in South Whitehall Township and down the road from Grumpy’s Restaurant.

When it’s time to feed, snow geese head out to local harvested soybean and cornfields, but they really can prefer winter wheat fields, if they can find them.

There’s one relatively small winter wheat field also on Mauch Chunk Road in South Whitehall where the farmer has installed lifelike decoys of coyotes to deter snow geese from wiping out his field, that they can do in short order. About two years ago that same field was visited by snow geese and they virtually ate the entire field and made stubble of the wheat.

The hunting season for them is in progress and it’s a long season (Jan. 29-April 26) with high bag limits of 25 daily and no possession limit. The reason for this is because waterfowl biologists from Canada and the U.S. recommend it as the geese can devastate their breeding and overwintering grounds of vegetation and crops. In essence there are too many of them as they can eat themselves out of house and home as the old saying goes.

Press photo by Nick Hromiak The Great Backyard Bird Count gets underway Feb. 16-19. But good luck trying to count the number of snow geese in this South Whitehall Township field.