Monday, November 26, 2012

Episode 138 (11-26-12): Snow Geese

Please see below (after the transcript and show notes) for links to news and upcoming events.


From the Cumberland Gap to the Atlantic Ocean, this is Virginia Water Radio for the week of November 26, 2012.

This week we feature another mystery sound.  Have listen for about 15 seconds, and see if you can guess what’s making this riot of sound.  And here’s a hint: Snow or no, the Chesapeake Bay area entertains these feathered visitors every winter.


If you guessed Snow Geese, you’re right!  After breeding in the Arctic in summer, Snow Geese return to the Chesapeake Bay region for late fall and winter.  Gathering to feed on plants around water bodies and in wetlands and agricultural fields, Snow Geese flocks can number in the thousands.  The species has two color forms: a white morph that’s common in the Bay region, and a blue morph that’s more common west of the Mississippi River.  From 1916 to 1975, Snow Goose hunting in the eastern United States was banned due to low population levels of the birds, but in recent decades populations have increased greatly.  And these big gangs of geese are a sight to behold: According to one description, from Cornell University, seeing “huge flocks of Snow Geese swirl down from the a little like standing in a snow globe.”  Thanks to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for making this week’s sound available for public use. 

For other water sounds and music, and for more Virginia water information, visit our Web site at, or call us at (540) 231-5463.  From the Virginia Water Resources Research Center in Blacksburg, I’m Alan Raflo, thanking you for listening, and wishing you health, wisdom, and good water.


Snow Geese in flight.  Photo made available for public use the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's National Digital Library, online at, accessed 11-26-12.

The quote in the script is from the Snow Goose introduction on the Cornell University Lab of Ornithology’s “Bird Guide” Web site at  The Snow Geese sound was taken from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s “Sound Clips” Web site (public domain sounds) at, accessed 11/26/12.  This week’s script was based in part on work done by Minni Gupta, a 2011 Virginia Tech graduate who did an internship with the Virginia Water Resources Research Center in the fall 2010 semester.  Ms. Gupta wrote Virginia Water Episode 38 (week of 10-18-10), which also includes Snow Geese sounds and information.

Sources: Information on Snow Geese (Chen caerulescens) was taken from Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries’ “Fish and Wildlife Information Service” Web page at; the Cornell University Lab of Ornithology’s “Bird Guide” Web site at; Life in the Chesapeake Bay, by Alice Jane Lippson and Robert L. Lippson (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2006); and A Guide to Field Identification of Birds of North America, by Chandler S. Robbins et al. (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2001).

Other sources of information on Virginia birds include the following:
*Virginia Society of Ornithology at;

*Cornell University Lab of Ornithology’s “Birds of North America Online” at (a subscription is required).

*E-bird Web site at, maintained by the Cornell Lab and the Audubon Society.  Here you can find locations of species observations made by contributors, and you can sign up to contribute your own observations.

Recent Virginia Water News
            For news relevant to Virginia's water resources, please visit the Virginia Water Central News Grouper, available online at

Water Meetings and Other Events
            For events related to Virginia's water resources, please visit the Quick Guide to Virginia Water–related Conferences, Workshops, and Other Events, online at  The site includes a list of Virginia government policy and regulatory meetings occurring in the coming week.