Outdoors blog: Canada geese making 'molt' migrations now
By: Sam Cook, Duluth News Tribune
Canada geese making "molt" migrations now
A flock of geese passes over Duluth on a fall day. (News Tribune file photo)
Several people have mentioned to me lately that they've seen Canada geese flying in V formations. They wonder if these geese are migrating. Well, sort of.
They're making their annual "molt" migrations, says Martha Minchak, Department of Natural Resources assistant area wildlife manager in Duluth. Each summer, Canada geese molt, or lose and replace, their primary wing feathers and tail feathers, Minchak said. For a period of a couple of weeks, the birds are flightless.
Before molting, non-breeding geese in the Duluth area migrate north to lakes where they can rest and be safe from predators during the molting period, Minchak said. Some go as far as Canada. Others don't go so far. Geese may be non-breeders because they're too young to breed (1 or 2 years old) or because they lost a mate during migration and didn't re-mate.
Breeding birds, which now have goslings, don't have the luxury of migrating during the molting season. They remain with their young to protect them, Minchak said. DNR officials take advantage of the molting season, when adult geese are flightless, to capture and band goslings in the Duluth-Superior harbor and on other lakes.
The goose population in the Duluth area has leveled off after increasing rapidly in past years, Minchak said.
"They appear to have stabilized," she said, "although that may be hard to believe for lakeshore owners."