See as many as 20,000 snow geese

DELTA — It's a sight you have to see to believe: thousands of snow and Ross' geese lifting off Gunnison Bend Reservoir amid honks and the beating of wings.

You can see thousands of geese at the annual Snow Goose Festival.

You can see this spectacle yourself on Feb. 23 and 24 as the Delta Chamber of Commerce hosts the annual Delta Snow Goose Festival.

Part of the festival includes a snow goose viewing event offered by the Division of Wildlife Resources. The event will be held at Gunnison Bend Reservoir, just west of Delta. Admission is free.

As many as 20,000 geese — mostly snow geese — have been at the reservoir during past festivals. Except for the black tips on their wings, snow geese are pure white.

Phil Tuttle, regional conservation outreach manager for the DWR, says DWR biologists will set spotting scopes up, so you can get a close look at the geese. "We'll also be available to answer any questions you have," Tuttle says. "Wildlife watching is a fun activity for the whole family. We encourage you to come out and see the spectacle."

You can learn more about the festival at deltasnowgoosefestival.com.

The best times to see the geese

The areas where you'll see the geese vary according to the time of the day.

If you arrive in Delta early in the morning, you can watch the geese feeding in fields that surround the reservoir. Then, between 9 a.m. and 10:30 a.m., the geese take off and fly back to the reservoir. "That's an exciting time to be at the reservoir," Tuttle says.

After landing on the reservoir, the geese usually spend the next few hours there. Then, sometime between 4 and 6 p.m., they take off again and fly back to the fields. "Watching and hearing the geese take off can take your breath away," Tuttle says.

DWR biologists will watch which fields the geese fly to. If you arrive after the geese have left the reservoir, the biologists will direct you to the fields where the geese are feeding.

Viewing tips