Just Another Nature Enthusiast

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William L. Finley NWR | Gaggles, Wedges, and Plumps

William L. Finley NWR | Gaggles, Wedges, and Plumps

I’ve seen a lot of geese in my life


It seemed as if I saw more geese during my afternoon visit to this wildlife refuge than I’ve encountered over the course of my entire life.

There were that many birds!

When we first arrived, all I could see were Canada Geese;  flock after flock filled the broad skies.

They arrived in throngs… one after another… wedges, skeins, and plumps.

Mesmerized by the sights and sounds of the geese arriving… I had no concept of how many geese were already in the reserve.

My husband was beside himself as he giddily exclaimed, “Jane, do you see them… thousands of birds…”

There… across the field, on the other side of the wildlife refuge, an eruption of flight was taking place. Dusky geese, gaggles upon gaggles, too many to count, took to low level flight… without an incident of crash or accident. 

William L. Finley Wildlife Refuge was originally established to provide habitat for these populations of geese.

The Willamette Valley Refuges provide migrating Canada geese with what they need to survive during the fall and winter and make the trek back to Alaska in the spring. To prepare for the spring flight and subsequent nesting period, geese need food, water, and sanctuary. All of these items are provided on the Willamette Valley Refuges where thousands of geese spend the winter.

The dusky is a subspecies of Canada goose that breeds only in the Copper River Delta area on the south-central coast of Alaska and on islands in the Prince William Sound and Gulf of Alaska. They winter primarily in the Willamette Valley and along the lower Columbia River of Oregon and Washington. The dusky represents one of the smallest subspecies populations of geese in North America.

In the fall duskies migrate south along the Pacific coast, arriving at their wintering grounds of southwest Washington and western Oregon in October and November. Here they feed on nutrient-rich grasses that grow in the wet, mild winters until they depart in early April.

Cut from: William L. Finley NWR website

The collective noun for a group of geese on the ground is a gaggle; when in flight, they are called a skein, a team, or a wedge; when flying close together, they are called a plump.

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