Snow geese can provide a touch of white Christmas

News from the region
Kansas City
Published Date

Kansas City, Mo. – You’re unlikely to need a sleigh to go over the river and through the woods this Christmas weekend, according to National Weather Service forecasters. There’s no snow in the forecast. But a touch of white for the holidays is possible when you visit Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) wetlands and lakes.

Snow geese by the thousands are visiting western Missouri this month. The Arctic-nesting geese have made their annual migration from the north. They rest in huge flocks on open water, sometimes rising in loud honking swirls of white and gray. The geese fly back and forth from feeding areas when not resting.

About 164,000 snow geese were counted on Dec. 20 at the Loess Bluffs National Wildlife Refuge in Holt County north of St. Joseph. Those numbers indicate that snow geese are likely visiting other waters in northwest Missouri. Also on Dec. 20, flocks of snow geese were resting on Atkinson Lake at MDC’s Schell Osage Conservation Area in Vernon County south of Kansas City. Cold weather moves the geese south and they edge back north during warmups.

A winter bonus is that large _ and quite white _ trumpeter swans also can be spotted at various lakes and wetlands in western Missouri. For all waterfowl watching, cameras and binoculars are useful accessories. Visitors to any public use areas should check regulations and signs posted at parking lots and along roadways. Wildlife refuges for migrating waterfowl are part of the management plan for many areas, and that prompts road closures or prohibits boat usage. Many MDC areas also have special access rules during hunting seasons.

To find MDC conservation areas near you and information about them, visit For more information about snow geese, visit