Oak Hammock Marsh getting early influx of geese, scientist says

Geese are on their way back to Winnipeg a lot earlier than normal this year.

March 6 marked 2nd earliest spring return on record for wildlife management area near Winnipeg

Geese are on their way back to Winnipeg a lot earlier than normal this year. (David Coates/Detroit News/Associated Press )

Geese are on their way back to Winnipeg a lot earlier than normal this year.

Oak Hammock Marsh has had about 100 geese arrive already.

Stuart Slattery, a scientist with Ducks Unlimited Canada, said that's unusually early.

"This is the second-earliest year we have on record here at the marsh," he said. "They're usually coming in mid-month, so we're a week to 10 days early."

The marsh has kept records since 1994. This year's date of March 6 is the second-earliest for a return, Slattery said.

"We've had a fairly mild winter, for sure, and we don't have the depth of snow that we see in some years, so the birds are probably cluing into those changes so that they can get here very early," he said. "There's a premium on arriving early. The earliest birds get the best nest sites, closer to the food or better able to avoid predators and so on."

Geese that nest early have a better chance of raising goslings that are large enough to survive the trip south in the fall.

He said 100 birds may not sound like a lot, but it's quite a bit for this time of year and more are arriving by the minute.

"They've been trickling in all morning. There will probably be lots of them by the end of the day," he said. "I'm sure the snow has some of the geese scratching their heads, wondering why did they come this early?"


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