Sunday Morning with Shawn and a Million Snow Geese

Shawn dragged me out of bed before the clock had even struck 5 a.m. on a recent Sunday morning. I’m usually the early riser between the two of us, but this day was a different story. He was ready to hit the road; and for good reason. He had read the forecasts. No, not the weather forecasts; snow geese migration forecasts.

Trumpet Swans at sunrise at Squaw Creek

We were headed to Squaw Creek National Wildlife Refuge where over a million snow geese were anticipated. Shawn knew this because the refuge provides a site that tracks the number of snow geese there. I found myself in my fuzzy pre-dawn mind wondering how you count a million snow geese.

Swans welcome the snow geese at Squaw Creek Wildlife Refuge

The geese took their time; flying in little by little throughout the morning. Look closely at the skyline in the photograph above and you’ll see the sky is littered with flocks of snow geese heading in.

The good news is the snow geese’s meandering entrance gave us time to look at some other guests before taking in the main show.

Act One included Trumpeter Swans.

Swans swimming in a group of three


Let nature be thy teacher.  — William Wadsworth

We could tell the snow geese were accumulating on the other side of the lake so we bid a fond farewell to the swans.

Snow geese awaiting the arrival of more in the early morning waters

The number of snow geese on the lake was finally starting to accumulate.

This process happens day after day during their Missouri migration. The snow geese head out to the fields in the afternoon and return to the water the next morning.

Canadian Geese at a Missouri Wildlife Refuge

A few Canadian Geese caught our attention off in the horizon. What’s a lake in Missouri without a few Canadian Geese?

But the gaggle of snow geese were taking center stage at the wildlife refuge. They would and could not be ignored.

A group of snow geese descending on the lake

Shawn got a new camera last year and a new telephoto lens which I knew was a big reason for wanting to get out to the wildlife refuge that morning. He had been on a photography excursion in North Carolina that covered the snow geese migration there. But the numbers weren’t anything like what we see right here in Missouri. Dorothy was right all along: everything you need can be found right in your own back yard.

So to speak.

It was incredible. And you know what that means? Shawn was right for getting me out of bed.

Shan and Marly at an early morning photography shoot

Just don’t tell him I said that; I hate to admit it when he’s right.

A million snow geese on the water at Squaw Creek National Park

For the real photographer’s take on the morning including some beautiful video that shares the effect of having a million plus snow geese as your neighbor, head over to Shawn’s site for a view of Squaw Creek on a Sunday morning. He also gives a little more details on how he took those shots.

Their entrance may have been lacking in fanfare, but their exit was something to behold.

A Million Snow Geese Collage and Poem by Namely Marly

Watching the Snow Geese Migration at the Squaw Creek Wildlife Refuge should be included somewhere on your bucket list. It’s that fascinating. While you’re there you can also see large flocks of mallards, trumpeter swans, mergenser ducks, bald eagles and even a few ospreys (which are something to see in and of themselves).

You won’t have to get out of bed at the pre-dawn hours like we did; unless you’re hoping to get some beautiful golden-hour shots. The geese really started filling up the lake around 10 am so you can plan your arrival around that. Just be sure to take your camera, your binoculars, and maybe even a lawn chair or two. Then sit back and get ready for the show!

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