The Outdoor Journal by Kyle Carroll

Rise of the White Fronts

For the past month, I have slipped off to a tree stand in the woods or spent the last few hours of daylight in a blind just off a clover field with my bow hanging close by as often as I could. I had noticed that I had been hearing white fronted geese, sometimes called speckled bellies, passing overhead for a month. If you are not familiar with their unique call, look them up online and give it a listen. Once you recognize it, you can't miss it high in the fall sky, day or night.

Anyway, I mentioned the fact that I had been hearing lots of the early migrating birds to Bill Lenhart in a phone conversation. Bill is a dedicated waterfowl hunter who keeps up on trends in bird numbers and fall flight forecasts. Bill informed me that I was noticing a trend that had been developing for several years. White front numbers have increased to the point that there is even some concern about the number of invertebrate they consume in the rice fields on south ahead of the main mallard migration. The bag limit has been increased from two a day to three a day as a result.

Not only has the White Front population increased along with the other Arctic geese, known as snows and blues, but the distribution of the mid-continent flock has spread out much wider as well according to Ducks Unlimited. Historically, the majority of the mid-continent population wintered on the coastal marshes and rice fields of south Louisiana and Texas. However, in recent decades these birds have expanded their wintering range north and east. White-fronted geese now winter throughout the Mississippi Alluvial Valley (MAV) but are especially abundant in eastern Arkansas.

Aerial surveys conducted on fall staging areas and band-recovery data suggest that the mid continent population of white-fronted geese currently numbers between 1 million and 2.5 million birds.  They have not all passed through yet. Keep an ear cocked to the sky and you may hear their wild chorus over head. 

The Caldwell County News

101 South Davis
P.O. Box 218
Hamilton, MO 64644
Phone: 816-583-2116

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