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PRI's Environmental News Magazine

Snow Geese – Up and Away

Air Date: Week of December 9, 2011

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(Photo: © Mark Seth Lender)

It’s migration time for many birds and Snow Geese are no exception. Writer Mark Seth Lender watched thousands of them take flight at their stopover in New Mexico.

Transcript

GELLERMAN: The Bosque del Apache Wildlife Reserve is in south central New Mexico. The Wetlands of the Rio Grande floodplain are a perfect place for wintering snow geese. Tens of thousands of the birds flock together for several months feasting on corn that’s specially planted, since the snow geese now have to share their habitat with farmers. Writer Mark Seth Lender spent many days watching the birds, from their sunrise fly-out to sunset return.

[SOUNDS OF SNOW GEESE TAKING FLIGHT]


(Photo:© Mark Seth Lender)

LENDER: A thousand snow geese take off all at once. The black flag flight feathers of the tips of their wings shirr like the blades of powerful engines. They crawl and scrawl their way onto the sky, white and black on cold clear blue, clinging there, slow motion before they truly free themselves from gravity, and rise.

To collide, full thrust, would be disastrous to fragile hollow bones. Somehow they avoid - the tree line, its nagging branches reaching; the interloping weight of a sandhill crane amongst them by mistake; the competition of their own with each other’s wings, coordinate: all up - all out - all down. Into this chaotic space they speed. Safe. Their voices, their limbs and bodies crushing the air into that sound endless ice age snows might have made - white noise over white, frozen ground.

[SOUNDS OF SNOW GEESE]


(Photo:© Mark Seth Lender)

GELLERMAN: Mark Seth Lender is the author of “Salt Marsh Diary – A Year on the Connecticut Coast.” Mark has more to tell about the snow geese of the Bosque del Apache Reserve, for that and some of his photos, take a gander at our website LOE dot org. And there, you'll also find our new survey about Living on Earth - please take a few moments to fill it out, and let us know which of our stories soar and which lay an egg.

 

Links

Listen to an Extended Interview with Mark Seth Lender

 

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