Our Feathered Friends

ONE OF SKAGIT VALLEYS TRUE PLEASURES: THE VISITING SNOW GEESE

As you’re searching for homes for sale in Skagit County this week, take a moment to say goodbye to the departing snow geese as they begin their journey North following well defined geographical features like coastlines, rivers and mountain ranges going home to the Arctic breeding grounds of summer.  These geese nest and raise their young off the northern coast of Siberia, but spend their winter here with us.  They are typically all gone by May, but with our strange weather you might hear a honk or two this week as the last depart the Valley.

The valley has hosted up to 50,000 during the winter months.   Enormous flocks of snow geese fly in to feast on the grasses and rootstocks of grain in our low lying farmlands. During the day you will find them in the fields in areas such as Fir Island and in the evening they return to the bay visiting the mudflats during low tide and the fields during high tide.

Witnessing an enormous flock of snow geese take flight from one of our local fields is breath-taking.  Snow geese are all white, except for black wing tips that are most visible when they fly, but among the white birds are darker individuals. Until recently, the Blue Geese, as the dark birds were called, were considered a separate species. They are now recognized as merely a dark form (or “morph”) of the Snow Goose.  The birds have a three-foot wing span and weigh about 6 pounds.

Parents stay with their young through the first winter. Families travel together on both the southbound and northbound migrations, separating only after they return to the arctic breeding grounds. Family groups can easily be seen in migrating and wintering flocks.

So next winter listen in the distance for the sounds of honking, look to the horizon for the skies to whiten for you can be certain that very soon our farmlands will lend a well-deserved resting and feeding area for these magnificent birds.  Yet another benefit of our beautiful farmland and mild winter weather.