The biggest news this week at Great Bend’s Brit Spaugh Zoo was the arrival of a new animal on Wednesday. (See story on page 1.) Seems like the zoo is always adding new animals, especially if one counts the hundreds of migrating birds that visit every December.
White domestic geese can be found at the zoo year-round, but flocks of Canada geese start their noisy southern migration in the fall, flying in V-formation and honking like New Year’s Eve partiers. These geese have grayish plumage, a black neck and head, and a white throat patch.
The National Geographic website notes the migrating birds can fly 1,500 miles in one day with a favorable wind, but typically travel at a much more leisurely rate. They remain in flocks year-round, except while nesting. Over 100 years ago their numbers had dwindled to the point of requiring protection, but they rebounded successfully.
According to information on the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation’s website, "bone remnants found in the trash pits of prehistoric Indian camps along the Arkansas River basin indicate that ancient hunters once sustained themselves on Branta canadensis (commonly known as the Canada goose, and sometimes incorrectly referred to as Canadian goose). Although hunting patterns have changed over the past 2,300 years, these geese remain popular among sportsmen today."
Brit Spaugh Zoo has approximately 50 species of birds.