The snow geese are taking off after feeding in a field of recently mowed corn at the Bernardo Wildlife Management Area in New Mexico, US. The corn is grown to help feed migratory birds in the Rio Grande valley. Historically the birds chose that route to feed on native food and wetlands provided by natural floods and course changes of the Rio Grande River. Dams now control the Rio Grande so some of the wildlife management areas in the valley grow corn and control water to mimic some of the habitat that once existed.
We spent the late afternoon watching the Snow Geese take off in bursts all at once and gradually resettle. After landing many would walk in a line while others flew back to the recently mowed corn. Late in the day new geese flying in into the middle of the crowd would push the group out. Gradually the feeding geese moved closer and closer to where we were observing them near the road. As the sun set the geese were close – approximately 10-15 feet away. We waited after sunset for them to take off, knowing they would go back to a wetland to roost. Suddenly the birds took off in an explosion that not only impacted your visual senses, but you could also feel the wind from their wings and hear the roar from both the wings and their calls. It was an amazing experience.