Port Susan Snow Goose and Birding Festival 2010

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The Port Susan Snow Goose and Birding Festival 2010, will take place on the 20th and 21st of February 2010. It offers two days of bird related activities and fun, and special events for children have also been included in the festival line-up, making it a fun experience for the entire family. An exclusive feature for the festival, is the Great Northwest Glass Quest, where festival goers will be able to participate in a treasure hunt for dated and signed snowballs made of glass. Other activities such as workshops, tours and guest speakers will also be available.

To register for the event, or for additional information, visit the official Port Susan Snow Goose and Birding Festival 2010 website at http://www.snowgoosefest.org/Home.html.

Date: 20 – 21 February 2010
Venue: Four Springs Lake Preserve
City: Camano Island
Country: United States of America

Emperor Goose (Chen canagica)

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The Emperor Goose (Chen canagica) is a beautiful bird species that can be found in Alaska as well as certain areas in Russia. Whilst it breeds in Alaska and Russia, the geese spend winter in the Aleutian Islands and occasionally a few end up on the Pacific Coast. When in the area, you certainly will want to keep your eyes peeled for these fine birds.

The Emperor Goose is about 18 inches in length with a wing span of 43 inches. The body is gray and the feathers are tipped in black and white. The feet and legs are distinctively orange. Adult Emperor Geese have a notable white head and nape with a black throat and pink bill. The black throat of the Emperor Goose distinguishes it from the Blue Goose. Oftentimes the neck and head will be stained a rust color from the iron of the tundra waters.

Nest sites are chosen by the female Emperor Goose just before she is ready to lay an egg. The nest is carefully lined with dead vegetation and down feathers later added in. The male Emperor Goose keeps a watch on the nest and female, chasing other males off from the nest area. The brave males will even attack predators or distract their attention from the nest. Clutch size for Emporer Geese ranges from 3 to 8 eggs. Incubation by the female lasts 23 to 27 days. Young ones leave the nest in about 50 to 60 days. In the breeding season, Emperor Geese will feed on plant matter. In winter their diet changes to mostly marine vegetation and invertebrates.

As the population of Emperor Geese is reduced and their range is limited, this bird species is vulnerable to a number of threats, including oil spills. Their lower numbers could also be due to subsistence hunting. A number of conservation management guidelines have been created for the preservation of the species. One such guideline states that, should the population drop below 60,000 for a period of 3 years, all hunting must be halted. Large sections of breeding sites are under the protection of the Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge. Winter habitats are under guard by the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge. If you are interested in assisting in maintaining populations of Emperor Geese, there are a number of conservation initiatives which you can support.

Ross’s Goose (Chen rossii)

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The Ross’s goose or as it is scientifically named, Chen rossii, is 16 inches long with a total wingspan of 51 inches. It is a small goose, weighing between 860 to 2040 g, which sometimes hybridizes with the Snow Goose and has many different colored morphs. The white Ross’s Goose is very similar to the white morph Snow Goose, the differences are that the Ross’s Goose is smaller, its bill is stubby, it does not have a black patch on its mandibles and its head looks rounder with a short neck.

The white morph-adult has completely white plumage with black primaries and has pink legs, feet and bill. The white morph-immature has a majority white plumage with grey upper parts. It also has black primaries, dark feet and legs and dark bill. The immature white morph Snow Goose has a darker back than the Ross’s Goose. The blue morph-adult has a dark lower neck and body and a white head and upper neck. It has a pink bill, legs and feet with dark primaries and secondaries.

The Ross’s Goose will breed on tundra near the Southampton Islands in Hudson Bay and the northeastern Mackenzie. During the winter period the Ross’s Goose will stay mainly in California, east coast and the lower Mississippi Valley in salty or freshwater marshes. In the summer the Goose will stay in the central Canadian Arctic. The call of the Ross’s Goose is a high-pitched “keek keek keek”. It is a completely vegetarian bird eating different grasses, legumes and domestic grains. It scrapes out the ground and makes a nest in the hole, lining it with plant material and down feathers.

The female Ross’s Goose will lay 2-6, white eggs that become stained during incubation. The female Ross’s Goose does all the incubation of the eggs while the male stands on guard the whole time. When the female eventually has to leave the nest she will cover it in down to keep the eggs warm and to hide them from any predators lurking around. When the chicks hatch they come out covered in either a yellow or grey down and their eyes wide open. It takes the juveniles only 24 hours after hatching to have the ability to feed and swim.

California’s Aleutian Goose Festival

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The inhabitants of the small town of Crescent City, situated in rural northwestern California, invite bird and nature lovers everywhere to join them in celebrating the annual Aleutian Goose Festival. The 2008 event, which takes place from 28 to 30 March, will be the 10th annual Aleutian Goose Festival held in honor of these remarkable birds which have been snatched back from the brink of extinction.

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