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Every year as fall yields to winter, Kathy and I go out into the fields to welcome the geese back to Texas.
The sights and sounds of thousands of geese filling the sky overhead while yelping and chortling in a strangely coordinated chorus impels me and Kathy to jump with joy. We feel we ought to give these magnificent birds a hearty welcome because they've traveled some 2,500 miles to get here from the Arctic Tundra.
Snow geese come to Texas as do other geese to feed on waste grain in agricultural fields along with plant seeds, leaves and stems. In a behavior called snow geese aggressively dig up underground root stalks called rhizomes.
Snow geese are our favorites. The silky white birds with black wing tips billow up from fields in huge clouds, looking somewhat like a snow blizzard, and sail through the sky like waving white ribbons streaming in loose V shapes.
Mixed in with the flocks are dark, chocolate brown geese that look bluish against the sky or on a prairie. But they're merely a dark color morph of the regular snow goose that were once thought to be a separate species called the blue goose.
We've welcomed the geese at many fields from the coastal wildlife refuges near Houston to the fallow farm lands near Choke Canyon west of Corpus Christi and the agricultural fields between San Antonio and Uvalde.
However, a small, duck size white goose in the flock called the Ross' goose is definitely a distinct species. Though never seen here in large numbers, this elfin looking goose is easy to pick out by its rounded forehead and short, stubby beak. By contrast, snow geese have sloping foreheads and conspicuously long beaks.
A big welcome for winter visitors
A flock of geese called greater white fronted geese are not to be outdone as a spectacle on Texas prairies. Though not always as common as other geese on Texas prairies, the birds are easily recognized by their sinewy, sleek, black necks offset by a white chinstrap.
Taxonomists recently split the Canada goose into two species, the cackling goose and the Canada goose. Both show up on Cheap Women Canada Goose Hybridge Lite Vest Topaz Australia Texas prairies and both are similar saving for the smaller size and square headed appearance of the cackling goose.