Social Behavior And Migration Patterns of Blue and Snow Geese Wintering in Louisiana and Eastern Texas

From 1969 to 1972, Blue and Lesser Snow Geese (Chen caerulescens caerulescens) were neck-banded to permit identification of individuals and family groups, and 592 geese were dyed or painted to facilitate the study offlock behavior. The geese were dyed or painted to facilitate the study of flock behavior. The geese were captured and marked on the Sabine National Wildlife Refuge, Cameron Parish, Louisiana. Thirty-one neckbanded family groups were observed during the 3-year study. Eighteen families were seen together two or more times, while two families were seen together six or more times. The standard family pattern consisted of parents and cohort offspring. Offspring hatched in a family group. Neckbanded parents and yearlings or parents and 2-year-olds were seen together as families. Flocks of 70 to 200 gesse were dyed and released together. The dyed geese were observed to spread out in singles and groups of two to five for a distance of 130 airline miles along the coast. In 347 observations of dyed geese, only three observations revealed geese in groups of larger than size five. Two-hundred sixty-four recoveries of Sabine NWR banded geese were mapped to degree block on maps of North America. The snow phase showed a tendency to migrate to more western areas. The principle breeding grounds for sabine area geese appear to be in northeastern Canada at Baffin Island, McConnell River and Cape Henrietta Maria. The major influx of blue goose migration to the Sabine NWR, Cameron Parish, Louisiana, was delayed in 1971-72. Evidence for this include a late influx of predominatly white phased flocks in from the Central Flyway and observations of neckbanded geese during the winter months in the Midwest.

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