Feb 24, 2011 8:24 PM by David Ortiviz

Snow geese festival goes on, with or without geese

A big weekend for bird watchers in Southern Colorado. It's the 9th Annual Snow Goose Festival in Lamar. Tens of thousands of geese and other waterfowl have been spotted in recent weeks, but at times the snow geese are a rare sight.

John Martin Reservoir in Bent County is a rest stop for thousands of migratory birds. "Some years in the tens of thousands or over a hundred thousand," said Steve Keefer, with the Colorado Division of Wildlife.

A common species this time of year is the snow goose. The Division of Wildlife says last week roughly 55,000 geese and ducks were counted among four counties near the Arkansas River. A majority of the birds were spotted at John Martin Reservoir. "They like this area, it's on their migration pattern," said Keefer.

Snow geese certainly live up to their reputation as migratory birds. They don't stay put very long. Keefer took us on a tour of the reservoir to look for snow geese. Watching and waiting we came across thousands of ducks, four pelicans and even a bald eagle. However, instead of snow geese we saw "no" geese. Zero. Zip. Zilch.

Wildlife officers say the best time to see them on the water is around sunrise. "Right now, they're out feeding primarily agricultural fields," said Keefer.

The reservoir is like their sofa a place to rest with a full belly. "Ya, they'll come back," said Keefer. But for how long--well, there's no guarantees. "With migratory birds they may be here one day and not the next," he said.

Call it a wild goose chase you'd be a lucky duck to see.

The snow goose festival runs Feb. 24 through Feb. 27 in Lamar with or without birds. In addition to bird watching, other activities include a craft fair, hunting seminars and guided nature walks.



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