Scenic USA - Washington

Skagit Valley

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Skagit Valley - Skagit County, Washington

Photos by Jim Stiles
Jim Stiles Photography

   Shorter days and cool winds announce the subtle changes of autumn in Washingtonís Skagit Valley. Skagit Valley Snow Geese - Skagit County, Washington While natureís assortment of colorful leaves make their final descent to the ground, golden sunsets begin to arrive earlier every day along with millions of snow geese. As autumn marks a return to their annual winter habitat in northwest Washington, we're reminded how the population was only 3000 birds in the 1900s. Since then the snow goose has made a remarkable recovery and is now the most abundant species of water fowl in the world. Here in Skagit Valley itís not uncommon to see flocks of 50,000 birds feeding on aquatic plants, berries and left-over grain from the farmerís fields.
   During late fall and winter, Skagit Valley Snow Geese - Skagit County, Washington Skagit Valley not only attracts the snow goose, but resident herons, bald eagles and falcons. Local birds share this rich habitat with trumpeter and tundra swans, a variety of ducks and a bevy of human sightseers and spectators. Considered a premier winter tourist attraction, itís not necessary to be a bird expert to enjoy the raucous gathering of winter residents.
   Instinctively, when the snow melt proceeds northward, the snow geese follow, sometimes as early as March. The first migration includes mostly breeders, eager to start nesting in the tundra. Most snow geese are philopatric, returning to the site where they were hatched. The femaleís nest contains 3 to 5 eggs, and the young remain with their family for two to three years.

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