As March approaches, one question is on the minds of many wildlife enthusiasts.
When will the snow geese flock to Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area?
Every year, hundreds of thousands of talkative snow geese and other winter birds flock to Middle Creek, an area nestled on the border of Lancaster and Lebanon counties in Kleinfeltersville.
During 2020's peak, upward of 125,000 snow geese made a mid-migration pit stop at Middle Creek.
The geese typically start to show up in late January, with more and more gathering until the usual peak time of mid-February to early March, said Lauren Ferreri, Middle Creek manager.
It's hard to predict a specific time to see the birds in their most bountiful numbers, however. Weather and temperature have a lot to do with when — and how many — birds show up in a given year.
Snow geese don't like when Middle Creek's lake is frozen over, or when there is snow on the fields, as the geese cannot feed, Ferreri said.
So far in Feb., weather conditions have been cold and snowy, leading there to be much fewer geese and snow birds at Middle Creek, Ferreri said in a recent email.
"March will most likely be the month this year for peak migration instead of February," said Ferreri. "Ironically, this is what “normal’ looks like historically in terms of their migration." It's hard to predict, however; there are still many unknowns.
Ferreri reported seeing about 350 snow geese on Feb. 19. The number is variable, though, and can change at a moment's notice.
How to visit and see the geese
The Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area is still open to the public, though the Visitor's Center is not open at this time due to COVID-19, according to its website.
The best address to type into a GPS is 100 Museum Road, Stevens, PA, according to Middle Creek's website. It will take the visitor to the Visitor's Center, which has maps and brochures available for public use. Here's an online copy of the brochure.
The Willow Point Trail is the best spot to see the snow geese, according to Middle Creek, though it is usually one of the first places to draw in crowds. Middle Creek's Tour Route is a good alternative, the website said, though it's only open weekends in February.
In March, it will be open on weekdays, Middle Creek's website said.
It's best to go at sunrise or sunset. Middle Creek advises visitors to dress warm, bring a camera, binoculars and food, if able.
For those who can't make it or aren't local, there is a 24-hour livestream available on HDOnTap.com.