Conservation // 5 min Read

A Goose as White as Snow

Written by Aaron Palmieri

Dec 28, 2020

Bird watching is a hobby for people of all ages and can be a relaxing break from the normal day-to-day. However, there are moments of adrenaline-pumping excitement that can leave a lasting effect on you. For me, this occurs when I add a new species to my checklist, find birds in unexpected places, or when I see a species that has gone undocumented at a location for a long time. To my delight, I experienced all three of these situations at Palmetto Bluff during Thanksgiving week.

The Conservancy team was finishing a project in Moreland when Jay received a message. His face lit up in surprise and, after handing me his phone, I could see why. On the screen was a pure white bird with pink legs and bill resting at Moreland pond. It was a snow goose. This species has not been seen at Palmetto Bluff since the 1990s and I was ecstatic; I had never seen one in person.

I grabbed my binoculars and rushed over to the pond where I found it resting beneath a live oak. It seemed unphased by the nearby landscaping crew, passing cars, and excited birder on the other side of the road. While I began filling my phone with photos, my head was filling with questions.

Why did it decide to stop at Palmetto Bluff?

What made it select the Moreland pond of all places?

Why was it alone?

Will it be here tomorrow?

Unfortunately, my last question was answered with a resounding "no." With the goose now gone, my questions were left to speculation and I can only claim this as an odd occurrence. But, I still have my photos, the checkmark on my list, and the recurring excitement I feel when I share this story. I have no idea when a snow goose will reappear at Palmetto Bluff, but I hope next time other people have the opportunity to see the goose as white as snow.