Can geese help us predict the winter? - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Can geese help us predict the winter?

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SPOKANE, Wash. -

It’s that time of year once again; when flocks of geese get our attention as they spread across the skies above.

But does the timing of when these birds take flight indicate what kind of winter we're going to have? Or is it just a myth?

“You can tell the seasons are changing, but you can't tell specifically if it's going to be a long winter or a short winter,” said Environmental Studies Professor at Gonzaga University, Jonathan Isacoff. “Geese tend to come more or less around the same time.”

Isacoff says contrary to popular belief, Geese aren’t trying to get away from the cold when they migrate south.

“The main reason is food,” said Isacoff. “It's not as much cold. A lot of birds that migrate south can tolerate cold but they need food. There’s no light in the winter, it's dark 22-23 hours a day and even if there was food available any bird that needs food has to migrate south.”

Isacoff says most geese get their food from lakes and ponds. In places like Canada and Alaska, those sources of food freeze, leaving them no choice but to head south.

Isacoff also says not all geese migrate through the Inland Northwest. Some make their home here for the winter, while others head for the sunny south. 

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