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Snow geese off Point au Roche on Lake Champlain. Photo: Tom Cohen
Snow geese off Point au Roche on Lake Champlain. Photo: Tom Cohen

Heard Up North: masses of snow geese

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Thousands of geese are crowding the North Country's skies, lakes, and cornfields on their way south for the winter. A first-hand listen to Snow Geese massing in one Lake Champlain bay reveals a phenomenal din as the birds are constantly moving, taking off and landing, talking all the time.

They often seem to act in unison, as if they are choreographed. When they do take off they look like a white cloud. That's when the sound explodes.

Jack Downs says you can hear them from a mile away or more. And when they lift off or become agitated, it is deafening.

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"I'm here on Point au Roche State Park in Beekmantown for the annual arrival of the Snow Geese. The vast white flocks began building just after Hurricane Sandy blew through the North Country.

"The geese rest in the park's sheltered bays, making day trips to nearby farmers' fields where they root through the harvested cornfields. As they move as one, their nasal honks blend into a storm of sound.

"One day soon, these geese, which began their fall migration in the in the Arctic tundra in the far north, will be gone. All taking some invisible cue from instinct, they will rise up and head south to their wintering grounds on the southern Atlantic coast, in the Gulf of Mexico."

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