Fine Feathered Friends Finally Flocking to Montana’s Freezeout
Just like so many nature-related things this winter in Montana, arrivals are later than usual.
But, according to Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, the feathered frenzy is underway. And the good news is you haven't missed the "rush" just yet, of what is considered to be one of Montana wildlife's best shows. Maybe most of the birds know they'll still be hitting hard water. And weather elsewhere is likely hindering their itinerary.
Montana FWP says the number of geese and swans spotted at Freezeout Lake started to pick up over the weekend, though numbers remain far below average for this time of year. FWP's release states, "Activity starting to pick up some, ableit still below average...still light for geese and swans, also seeing better numbers of Northern Pintails, Mallards and few Common Goldeneyes.
"Nearly 100% of the water on the WMA remains frozen. Snow cover is receding, but still scattered snow present on the Area. Roads are in good condition and passable."
TRAFFIC COULD POTENTIALLY REMAIN LIGHT
As of yesterday (Sunday 3/19), the count was about 5,200 geese. The average on the same date between 2004-2022 is 30,348 birds. While far from its peak, FWP is unsure how many birds will land, due to the lingering ice. More birds are definitely expected in the coming days. But, conditions make it difficult to say "how long or how much use of the Freezout Lake Wildlife Management Area will occur, at least until conditions improve."
Freezeout Lake is Montana's primary snow goose staging area, a place where as many as 300,000 snow geese and 10,000 tundra swans gather and rest before flying onward. In spring, the snow geese head for Alberta and central Saskatchewan in Canada. From there, they eventually make their way to nesting grounds on the northwest Arctic coast of Canada. The geese usually reach Freezeout Lake in early March, where they rest up from a nearly 1,000 mile flight.
TO "FREEZE" OR "FREEZ"
Freezeout Lake is part of the Freezout Lake Wildlife Management Area (spelled without the "e"). Best viewing of the birds is from sunrise to 10:00am and from 4:30pm until sunset. Binoculars, telescopes, and probably warm clothing will make your viewing more enjoyable. While maybe not the busiest of seasons, the migration resting point is still a spectacular site.
Freezout Lake WMA is located between Fairfield and Choteau, Montana.
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