In our migration column “On the Move,” eBird project leaders Chris Wood, Brian Sullivan, and Marshall Iliff present species distribution maps from eBird for specific time periods so you can compare where birds are at different times of year. One of the species they write about in their April column is Ross’s Goose, the smaller, more localized cousin of Snow Goose.
Ross’s Goose, a high Arctic breeder, migrates in large flocks in October and November to the southern United States and northern Mexico. The maps above show the bird’s location in January (left) and April (right) from 2003 through 2013. Dark squares in California, New Mexico, Kansas, Arkansas, and other western and central states in January represent concentrations at national wildlife refuges, while faint squares in the east indicate places where a few Ross’s mixed with large congregations of other geese, usually Snow Geese. (Always check carefully any single white goose you see in a flock of Canada Geese.) Flocks head back north from mid-February to May. The dark spots on the April map show refuges in the Klamath Basin of Oregon and California, staging areas in southern Alberta and Saskatchewan, and other migration stopovers; pale squares across most of the U.S. reveal individual geese and small flocks that strayed off the primary flight lines.
eBird is the real-time online checklist operated by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Audubon. Marshall Iliff, Brian Sullivan, and Chris Wood are eBird project leaders. Submit your bird sightings at ebird.org.
A version of this article appeared in “Birding Briefs” in the April 2014 issue of BirdWatching. Subscribe.