Snow Geese Migration through Montana
Mid March in north central Montana is most often marked by Chinook Winds, melting snowdrifts and the occasional early Douglasia flower. The most spectacular phenomena of all, though, is the annual spring Snow Geese migration. Picture hundreds of thousands of snow geese lifting off from a partially frozen lake: a myriad of flapping wings, honking, and a flying pattern that appears chaotic and completely organized at the same time. It is a sight to behold.
Freezout Lakes Wildlife Management Area, located between Choteau and Fairfield, Montana, is the epicenter for Snow Geese activity during this time. Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks owns and manages the 11,350 acre area. Over 200 species of birds use Freezout Lake and it is a major resting stop for Snow Geese traveling northbound from California, Texas, and the Gulf Coast. They congregate at Freezeout Lake for a few weeks around mid March before slowly making their way to their nesting grounds – the extreme northwest Arctic coast of Canada and Alaska. The birds generally feed twice a day – they lift off from the lakes in the early morning to go feed in the neighboring grain fields and then return to the lakes in the late morning. This pattern occurs again in the late afternoon. For more information about the geese, check out this flier.
This year, the community of Choteau is celebrating the migration on March 22 – 24. The event, called Wild Wings in Choteau, includes two free tours of Freezout Lakes with professional birding guides, bird presentations, a showing of the movie “Winged Migration”, and the Old Trail Museum’s Wild Game Feed (a fundraiser for the museum). We will also be offering $5 van rides for folks not wanting to drive their own vehicles during the free tours.
Schedule of Events:
Friday, March 22
7 PM: Winged Migration showing at the Stage Stop Inn.
Saturday, March 23
6:30 – 10:30 AM: Guided Tours of Freezout Lakes, the epicenter of Snow Geese activity in the area. FREE. Meet in the lobby of the Stage Stop Inn. Dropstone Outfitting has van space available for $5 or you may take your own vehicle.
1 PM: White Geese Over Montana. Presentation by Mike Schwitters, world re-known master birder. FREE. Located at the Stage Stop Inn’s Breakfast Room
5:30 PM: Doors open for the Old Trails Museum’s Wild Game Feed. Museum Fundraiser. Admission is free will donation. Potluck dinner with wild game and non-game dishes, silent auction, live auction, and a 50/50 drawing. Located in the Stage Stop Inn’s Rocky Mountain Convention Center.
Sunday, March 24
6:30 – 10:30 AM: Guided Tours of Freezout Lake, the epicenter of Snow Geese activity in the area. FREE. Meet in the lobby of the Stage Stop Inn. Dropstone Outfitting has van space available for $5 or you may take your own vehicle
Stage Stop Inn Motel Reservations:
1-406-466-5900 or www.stagestopinn.com.
Snow Geese Tour Van Reservations: (406) 461-2114 or [email protected]
Download the Wild Wings Flier