SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Next time you spend a few minutes outside, look up. Particularly if you’re near a body of water, there’s a good chance you’ll see, or at least hear, geese overhead.
Spring migration is in effect, but we still have several inches of snow on the ground. Are these geese jumping the gun on spring? Not according to John Pollman, a frequent contributor for Ducks Unlimited.
“There are two primary factors that impact migration. One of those is access to food, and one of those is access to water,” said Pollman. “The door is kind of opening up just enough for those birds to be able to access those things. That’s why you’re starting to see birds move through here.”
Indeed, spring migration is not taking place early, according to Pollman. In fact, it’s actually a little behind schedule compared to an average year, in large part due to the high amount of snow we’ve seen this winter.
“Birds have been knocking on our door for weeks in all honesty, kind of waiting for conditions to change,” said Pollman. “Just in the last 7-10 days we’ve seen just enough of a warm up — just enough access opening up to food and water — that they’re starting to move through.”
The bulk of geese seen in South Dakota are Canada Geese, though there are a large number of Snow Geese as well. According to Pollman, many of these birds winter in areas like Oklahoma, Missouri, Kansas and even Texas.
In the spring, they begin moving back north, into their breeding grounds in Canada, Minnesota, North and South Dakota and many other places across the northern half of North America.
There’s something rather unique about South Dakota as it relates to the spring migration, according to Pollman. “Even here in the Sioux Falls area, you’re gonna see just about every single kind of species of waterfowl that we have here in North America,” he said. “They move through here in great numbers in the spring. The migration — the flyway kind of bottlenecks here in eastern South Dakota, so you’re gonna see a number of species.”