Three days ago, I was introduced to the Spring migration of the Canadian Goose. I’m familiar with the Fall migration. It was common, growing up in Alberta, to watch them flying South at a high altitude every Fall; forming that nearly perfect V. What I didn’t realize is that the Salish Sea is right on the Spring migration flight path. It is stunning how many birds have flown by each day. It doesn’t matter what we’re doing, every time a flock flies past, we drop our tools and go watch the spectacle.
The progression seems endless. Large flocks flew by every 15 – 30 minutes – all day long and into the evening. The numbers were astounding. At first you can hear the honking as it travels across the water of the Salish Sea, and then you see the flock. The noise just gets louder and louder. I can’t imagine what the geese are trying to communicate to each other. Maybe, they are just trying to get other birds to steer clear of their flight path.
The flocks seemed to be heading North at three different altitudes. The first altitude was very high, like what I was used to in the old Fall migration. These flocks mostly held a pattern, some flocks forming a decent V formation, but others looked like they were in an extremely long conga line. The second altitude was about 50 – 100 feet above the water. These flocks were less formal. The lines constantly shifting and changing. The last group simply skimmed a few feet above the water. These flocks seemed to be even more haphazard than the other two types, the lines constantly shifting and changing. No one apparently in charge. And the noise for this last group seemed significantly louder, although maybe it was because they were so close to the water that sound simply travelled further.
I’ve included a short movie clip below to give you a sense of the noise these birds make.