2003 Snow Goose Migration Chronology

March 24, 2009 by  

By Perry Thorvig

Snow geese begin their migration in late August. By early September, a few of them appear in Saskatchewan. The big migration from and across North and South Dakota occurred on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, October 30 to November 1 in 2003. The following chronology describes the year’s migration.


September 7-13, 2003
8th – The first snow geese arrived in small groups in the fields around the Quill Lakes (SK).
9th – Lot of ducks and Canadas are reported around the Quills. A few snows are spotted in North Dakota.
13th – Flock after flock of snow geese are headed south over The Pas, MB area following a heavy north wind. The snow geese numbers in the Quills are on the increase. There are also lots of Canada geese around. Harvests should be completed this week. Additional snows are showing up in ND. Lesser Canadas are coming across the border into North Dakota in good numbers with the last front. Bismarck has its first September high temperature in the 60s.
September 14-20
18th – The number of snow geese around the Quills is growing daily. The specks are thick around Kindersley, SK with a smattering of Ross and snows, however, more and more are showing up everyday. There seems to be quite a few cranes around as well. Duck numbers are up from last season.
19th – A few small flocks of snows are reported in the Des Lacs area.
September 21-27

22nd – Fair numbers of snows are around the Quills and a big migration happened on September 17th. Ducks are thick and Canadas about normal. Hunting success is very good. Lots of juvies are taken.
27th – Goose hunting season opens in North Dakota.
September 28 – October 4 (First week of ND season)
28th – There are small, scattered flocks in ND. Six snows are taken by one party in ND during the first weekend of the season.
West central Saskatchewan around Kindersley is real dry. Some good water is located north of there. There are lots of specks with young, and good numbers of Ross and snows with plenty of young. Most of the snows are still north of Kindersley (1-2 hour driving).
October 5-12
5th – Sunday morning (5th), lots of snows were migrating east over Kindersley.
There are unbelievable numbers of snow geese in SK. Not many geese are seen south of Moose Jaw, SK though.
October 13-18
It is very warm in ND and Canada this week.
15th – There are some birds in the Rock Lake and Hurricane Lake areas of ND.
60 snows are reported taken by one party in ND.
Specks peak in western SK. Snows are just arriving in southern Alberta. Birds move into southern SK. There are lots of geese reported in southern SK around Lampman. There are now good numbers of birds in southern Manitoba too.

Oct. 19 –25

The first part of the week continues to be warm.
23rd – 25 mph wind in SK. The weather is starting to turn. Great hunting.
24th – 40 mph NW winds in SK. Estevan gets a trace of snow. At least a trace of precipitation in Estevan during the next 7 days. (Estevan, SK gets 12 inches of snow in November.)
25th – Huntable numbers of snows are coming into the Upper Souris Refuge in ND. One small flock is seen in the western panhandle of Nebraska.
Birds are piling into southern Alberta. They are also starting to come into Sand Lake, SD
October 26-November 1
26th – It’s getting colder. Night time temps in the low 20s in Bismarck.
28th – Birds are packed into southern SK but still lots of birds in north central SK as well. There are a hundred thousand at J. Clark Salyer. A good number of birds are also at Sand Lake in N. SD.

29th The first snowfall of the year hits ND. There are 2.5 inches of snow in Bismarck, 3 inches in Bottineau, and 4 inches in Estevan, SK. There are 45 mph winds in western MN. A few snows are seen there. There are 8,500 snows at Sand Lake. Some birds are heard in central Nebraska at daybreak – likewise along the Missouri in Iowa. Birds are just starting to enter the Sacramento Valley in California.
30th – Geese are leaving the North Dakota refuges in huge numbers and migrating. The birds have been there in big numbers for only about five days this year!! Some Minnesota hunters do very well on mallards and bluebills in the Hutchinson area. Late this afternoon, the birds start a major push down the Missouri River and over Pierre, SD. Hunters wait in the Nebraska panhandle for the big push. But, it doesn’t happen.
31st – Today it does happen! The weather of the last two days has really started to move birds. The night time low is –2 in Estevan, SK. The high temperature is 30 and a low of 14 degrees in Bismarck, ND. There is a trace of snow. The birds continue to push through ND in large numbers. They are also moving over western South Dakota. Big flocks have moved into Sand Lake. Minnesota duck hunters are doing very well today and seeing a lot of high flyers heading south in flocks of 200 to 300 ducks.
Farther south, the snow geese vanguard reaches Nebraska by 2 in the afternoon. Hunters report them in the stratosphere today around Omaha. They are going overhead on Halloween afternoon and night near Lincoln and Omaha and northeast KS. The western panhandle has two inches of snow on the ground and the birds are flying over. About 20,000 are reported in one area in Colorado. Dumas, Texas in the panhandle gets 400 snow geese.
Nov. 1st – The low temperature is just 13 and only gets up to 30 for a high in Bismarck today. Another half inch of snow falls. Swans are passing over the Winnipeg area. Northern Minnesota field hunters are having tremendous success on mallards. But, the lakes are freezing fast. Snows are also seen in west central MN. Snows are holding for a while at Sand Lake. Flock after flock of snows are still going over southeast and central NE. There are a few birds flying over central IA. Action is heating up at Squaw Creek, MO as northern birds start to arrive. One small flock is reported as far south as Biloxi, MS.
November 2 – 8
2nd – Not all the birds have left the Dakotas. Snows are on the ground west of Watertown, SD. They are also arriving in Texas and California. Lots of them are around Katy, TX.
3rd – 3.3 inches of snow falls in Bismarck. Temperatures are between 13 and 19 degrees. J. Clark Salyer refuge in ND is frozen. Snow and cold has pushed birds out of west central SK. There are now 300,000 snows reported at Sand Lake, SD, up from 8,500 last week. Pickstown, SD is showing geese in local fields. Small flocks are seen milling around the Missouri River in central MO.
4th – Another 2.1 inches of snow falls in Bismarck, ND. Hunting is just about done in ND. But, despite all the bad weather of the last week, there are still some good numbers along I-94.
5th – Waves and waves of snows arrive in Texas. Rare sightings of snows occur in Utah.
6th – The Sand Lake refuge is emptying out. Those birds form a constant stream of snows flowing over Lake Vermillion, S.D. They are headed for Squaw Creek. Birds are seen in Tennessee.
7th – Tornadoes of snow geese are piling into fields in Oklahoma.

November 9-15

12th – 200,000 snows are holding at Squaw Creek refuge in northwestern MO. Geese are spread out from North Dakota to Texas.
13th – There are still 125,000 snows at Sand Lake. Lots of birds have dropped in at the Lovewell reservoir in KS. The Texas coast is filling up with geese.
14th – Pockets of snows are left in ND two weeks after the big push started. The state is 98% froze up.
November 16-22
18th – There are thousands and thousands of snows in Kentucky.
20th – 300,000 snows are still at Squaw Creek.
21st – Birds are still being taken in Spinks and Edmund counties in SD.
November 23-29
24th – It is reported that there are 350,000 snows at Squaw Creek.
29th – Thousands of geese filled the sky around Squaw Creek on Saturday morning.
November 30-December 6

Snow goose hunting is over in the upper Midwest.


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