Migratory Snow Geese

On Sunday we drove out to Parma, Idaho, about an hour’s drive from Boise. I had heard that there are about 60,000 snow geese that migrate through the area every spring and fall, and the Fort Boise Wildlife Management Area in Boise is a good place to see them. It would get us out of the house, out of town for the first time in a long time, and wouldn’t require much walking with my booted foot.

All that white area is thousands of snow geese crowded together in a pond

We found the WMA pretty easily, which is basically a spot you pull over on the side of the road and then climb up in to an enclosed, elevated viewing platform to see the birds and wildlife. Unfortunately, we really couldn’t see any snow geese. We saw a few dozen swirling and soaring together off in the distance, but that was it. A friendly birder who was also there told us that there is construction happening in the WMA, so the ponds are not full of water like they usually are. This means the snow geese have sought other places to spend their layover. He told us of a marshy area in the nearby town of Roswell to go see them. We thanked him and headed off in the minivan to continue our adventure.

And find them we did. Not 60,000 but definitely several thousand snow geese. Their honks are more musical and less annoying than the ever-present and overly-abundant Canadian Geese. We spotted a pond full of the beautiful birds and pulled over beside a hop farm to watch and get pictures. It’s amazing to watch so many birds swirling together in the air, as if they are dancing.

My pictures aren’t anything spectacular – my zoom lens isn’t very powerful and apparently needs cleaning – but it was truly a spectacular sight. I got a neat video of them soaring around that I shared on Instagram for anyone interested in seeing it.

After seeing the geese, we returned to downtown Parma and saw a parked train. As we watched, the engineer climbed up in the train, started it up, waved at us and blew the whistle several times, and then chugged on down the track. It basically made Alden’s whole year.

Then we got burgers from Boy’s Better Burgers (do not recommend. Mediocre food and not a single employee wearing a mask or gloves, no COVID precautions whatsoever) and visited the town park to eat and play for a bit (where we discovered a very racist Native American statue called “Bigfoot.”). Alden and Dinah zonked out for the ride home, which is always a positive endorsement of a morning well-spent.

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