Less ducks and more geese seen here during migration season

Column by Ron Hellbusch
Posted 11/28/18

You may watch the sky with an eye toward anticipating our uncertain and changing Colorado weather, or more specifically, you may be a bird watcher. Regardless you would have seen an almost overnight …

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Less ducks and more geese seen here during migration season

Posted

You may watch the sky with an eye toward anticipating our uncertain and changing Colorado weather, or more specifically, you may be a bird watcher. Regardless you would have seen an almost overnight change in the presence of Canada geese in the north metro skies over the November 10-11 weekend. The Division of Parks and Wildlife where getting similar reports all along the Front Range from Ft Collins south to the Denver Metro region.

Massive flocks of migrating geese, reaching in the 1,000s started to arrive in the quiet of the night at many of the larger reservoirs and lakes along the eastern Front Range. The exhausted travelers were seen Sunday and Monday consuming wasted grain in the harvested fields near Barr Lake, north and east of DIA and further south near Cherry Creek Reservoir.

Observers have found that over the recent decades of the 1900s in both the winter and summer seasons, the Front Range population of these nomads has grown even in view of the urbanization of farmland along Colorado’s I-25 corridor and the growth and development of the adjoining cities.

Geese have adapted well to the conversion of grain fields to homes and sprawling business parks. This specific specie of waterfowl has accepted people and traffic much like mountain elk have found comfort with people and traffic in mountain communities. However, the mule deer and mallard ducks resist and avoid these population changes. The result has been a concerning loss of population in the deer numbers state wide and the gradual but noticeable movement of duck migration routes to the eastern plains. The Front Range skies and reservoirs in the 1960s and 70s were once filled with migrating mallard ducks. Migration routes seemingly have moved to the eastern Colorado plains near the Colorado/Nebraska boarders.

Whatever the natural instincts possessed by the Canada geese that move their south bound migrations have haunted bird watchers and sportsmen a like. Some of the theories are interesting to ponder. The theories vary substantially. The fact remains that the geese move south in the fall and winter and north in the spring.

Here are some thoughts behind nature’s migration. The process of “hibernation” applicable for many wildlife species suggest birds cannot bury themselves in a burrow so distance and movement accomplishes the same objective. Migration keeps birds in regions that offer food, water and “climatic environments” that sustain life. Another theory offered is that of “North-south ancestral home “which suggests in ice ages past that land and water environments changed forcing birds to move as conditions changed to assure they had life sustaining water and food sources to support life in a changing environment. Another idea and probably the more easily understood and accepted theory is “”photoperiodism” which plays out in greater understanding and sense of reality wherein seasonal changes brings about shorter days and absence of food source growth and colder temperatures and absence of water, the roosting sites for waterfowl.

The Canada goose as well as all waterfowl relies on available and accessible harvested grain fields, marshlands, wetlands, open lakes, reservoirs and rivers. Climatic seasonal changes and resulting temperature changes limit this essential resource. Thus Mother Nature implanted migration in the habits of the Canada geese and other birds as well.

Outdoorsman and Westminster resident Ron Hellbusch can be reached at Ron-Hellbusch Comcast.net

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