Snow Geese, Ready for Their Closeup
Bernard Maktar of Pond Inlet won Nunavut Tunngavik's 2010 Photo of the Year Contest for this photograph of snow geese. He netted $1,000 in prize money and an enlarged copy of his photograph. The winning photo will also adorn the cover of the 2011 NTI Annual Report and serve as the background image for NTI’s advertising template for the next year, the land-claims organization said on its website.
Initially the snow goose was thought to be three separate species—the blue goose, lesser snow goose and greater snow goose—but, according to The Nature Conservancy, they are now recognized as variations on one. They join other species in migrating to and from the Arctic to breed, summering on the tundra.
"In May and early June, hundreds of thousands of birds migrate to the Arctic to nest and raise their young," says the Saskatchewan Schools website. "The steep cliffs of the Arctic islands are nesting sites for murres and other sea birds. Loons, snow geese, snowy owls, tundra swans and many other birds nest on the tundra. In the fall birds fly south. Some birds, like the ptarmigan, stay in the Arctic all year round."
The snow goose's 53- to 56-inch wingspan enables it to migrate far south for the winter, flying as high as 1,000 feet, according to The Nature Conservancy. Though they dwindled in number at one point, they now overgraze their breeding grounds.
"Once protected, snow geese rebounded a little too well," the Conservancy's website says. "The more than 4.5 million breeding pairs leave swaths of destruction between their arctic nests and southern wetlands and fields. Vast flocks now overgraze their feeding grounds, resulting in soil erosion, water evaporation, and increased soil salinity. While efforts are being made to save wetlands along their migration route, the fragile tundra recovers much more slowly, if at all."