Snow Geese

Although I didn’t see a single new bird at the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge, it was definitely the climax of my two-week trip. The sheer number of birds impressed me, particularly the number of geese. Not only were there large numbers of Canada geese, but also large numbers of Greater White-fronted Geese and Snow Geese.

It seemed impossible to point your camera anywhere there was water and not see hundreds of geese, Canada Geese, Greater-White Fronted Geese, Snow Geese. At first it seemed impossible to actually isolate a single species, much less a single subject.


But if you looked long enough you soon realized that the old adage “birds of a feather flock together” became an adage for a reason. Although there were islands where species mixed, generally they separated in open water.

Snow Geese

Since I generally see a single Snow Goose accompanying a flock of Canada geese, I focused on the snow geese while there,

Snow Goose morphs

and quickly learned just how little I know about the Snow Goose species. I’ve only seen adult Snow Geese before and didn’t recognize the immature geese when I first saw them. I was even more confused by the older birds that weren’t white. A little online research revealed that there is a darker morph, previously called Blue Geese, and intermediates.

It took a while to get pictures of geese that weren’t part of these huge flocks, but it was possible to find a few off feeding by themselves:

Snow Goose pair

Considering the gunshots in the distance, I tried hard to avoid disturbing the birds while driving around the refuge but it was impossible to drive down the road, no matter how slowly, without spooking ducks and geese

pair of Snow Geese taking off

that spooked other birds

Flock of Snow Geese taking off

until the sky was full of birds, and the air filled with the raucous honking of thousands of skittish geese all crying DANGER!!! DANGER!!!