As colder air moves into Missouri this week, keep an eye to the sky for honking flocks of snow geese.
These medium-sized geese are mostly white with black wing-tips. The so-called blue morph sports grayish-brown feathers with a white head, and white on the underside of its wings.
Watch for their bright, V-shaped chevrons – especially in stark contrast against a clear, black night sky – and consider the journey they’ve made.
Each autumn, these birds leave their nesting grounds in the arctic tundra, migrating to Missouri, and states farther south, to wait-out the winter. As they arrive here, you’ll find them in marshes, wetlands, rivers, lakes, and crop fields across the state.
Snow geese use their bills to dig-up and eat the roots of various marsh plants, and have adapted to feed on leftover grains such as rice, wheat, and corn.
These birds also provide an important source of food – as a prey species for bald and golden eagles during winter months.
Find more information on birding in Missouri with the Great Missouri Birding Trail.
Discover Nature is sponsored by the Missouri Department of Conservation.