Jan 262011
Authors: Justin Rampy

The Canadian goose has one of the longest and most treacherous migration patterns of any waterfowl known to modern science, but it may just be getting easier for them.

This is because warmer climate trends have caused the Canadian goose population to settle farther north than they normally would.

“Canadian geese only go as far south as they need to,” said Jim Gammonley, an avian researcher at the Colorado Division of Wildlife. “If the winter is particularly warm, they will settle and winter wherever they feel comfortable.”

Wintering is the annual migration that geese take to their winter grounds, which is where they stay to evade cold weather.

Hundreds of thousands of these geese migrate through Colorado on their way to their preferred wintering grounds further south and often stop several times within the state to feed and build stamina for the duration of their migration.

Because Colorado has had particularly warm winters in the last five years compared to those of decades past, there has been a growing trend of Canadian geese wintering around the Fort Collins area.

“The geese like Fort Collins and particularly campus because there is little snow and wide open range for them to graze and (flag down) others of their species,” Gammonley said.

In the first week of January, wildlife divisions all over the country take an annual “Midwinter Waterfowl Survey” to track the number of birds making their way down from the arctic. Gammonley said there are always minute fluctuations, and no large shift has yet taken place.

“But if the warming trend continues, you could see more geese wintering in Colorado because temperature is the main factor that prompts them to make a move. If it stays warm, they are less compelled to move further south,” Gammonley said.

In addition, there is a population of sveral thousand Candadian geese, according to Gammonley, that don’t migrate and stick around the Fort Collins area year-round.

All Canadian geese nest in the spring around March and April, and these Fort Collins natives often construct their nests on top of CSU buildings and in the flowerbeds on campus.

Gammonley offered his warning to all CSU students to be careful around geese during these times because they tend to get extremely aggressive and try to drive anyone and anything away from their nest.

Staff writer Justin Rampy can be reached at news@collegian.com.

 Posted by at 6:08 pm

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