Lamar hosts annual goose fest – Feb. 23-26


LAMAR, Colo. – Each morning in southeast Colorado at this time of year, tens of thousands of snow geese lift off local ponds and reservoirs in a pre-dawn ritual. The swirl of flapping wings and din of honking grows louder as the birds circle overhead and make their way to nearby grain fields. The snow goose migration is one of the grandest wildlife displays in the western United States and one of the many attractions that bring bird lovers to the High Plains Snow Goose Festival in Lamar.

“It still gives me goose bumps, pun intended, every time I see the birds take flight at sunrise,” said festival organizer Linda Groat of Colorado Parks and Wildlife. “The sights and sounds of thousands of white geese with black wing tips is a truly amazing spectacle.”

This year’s festival, Feb. 23-26, marks the 10th anniversary of the event that is cosponsored by Colorado Parks and Wildlife and the City of Lamar.

Snow geese are considered the most abundant goose in the world. Tens of thousands of the large, white birds move through eastern Colorado during their spring migration. Besides the clamoring flocks of snow geese, wildlife watchers can glass the landscape for numerous other bird species, including many wintering bald eagles and other raptors.

Festival-goers will have a wide variety of indoor and outdoor activities to choose from, beginning with several special tours on Feb. 24. Besides geese, other festival attractions include guided nature walks, a craft fair, birds of prey demonstrations, lectures, art workshop, hunting seminars, opportunities to explore the region’s museums and historic sites and a banquet.

Participants who plan to attend the outdoor tours are urged to dress in layers. The weather in southeastern Colorado is difficult to predict at this time of year, so it is best to be prepared for all kinds of conditions.

“We can have sunny days in the mid-60’s or wet weather with some snow,” said John Koshak a watchable wildlife specialist for Colorado Parks and Wildlife. “It’s best to be prepared for everything. The temperatures can change dramatically on the sunrise tours.”

Koshak also suggest bringing a camera, binoculars and a bird identification book.

Participants can pre-register or see the complete schedule at  To inquire about festival activities, call 719-336-4370.

Snow geese increasing in abundance
A few years ago, wildlife biologists estimated there were approximately 6 million lesser snow geese in North America divided into four distinct populations.  Today that number is in question.  Researchers with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Environment Canada believe their previous estimate was low.

Since 1999, liberal hunting regulations have encouraged hunters to harvest as many snow geese as possible to reduce impacts to the fragile arctic tundra where the birds spend the summer.  A study released in late 2011 indicates that hunter harvest has not been successful in corralling the snow goose population, which continues to increase.

Writing in the journal Wildlife Monograph, a team of nine research biologists concludes the abundance of midcontinent snow geese has been seriously underestimated in the past, leading wildlife managers to overestimate the ability of hunters to control or reduce the population.

The lesser snow geese, the species that moves through eastern Colorado,  are part of the West Central Flyway population that winter in southeastern Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, the Texas panhandle and northern Mexico. In late spring, these birds form enormous flocks before they head back to their summer nesting grounds in the Canadian arctic.

Lesser snow geese come in two different color phases. In the white phase, the geese are as white as snow except for the black wing tips. In the second phase, called blue geese, the color is slate gray with a white head.  Both have a dark “grinning patch” on the sides of their bill.

Mixed in the flocks of snow geese you may find some Ross’ geese, which look similar but are two-thirds the size of snow geese and do not have the grinning patch.  Ross’ geese weigh about 4 pounds while snow geese weigh about 6 pounds.

In their arctic breeding grounds, snow geese graze on grass and sedges that grow on the tundra.  While migrating through the prairies of North America they feed on leftover grain in agricultural fields

The overcrowding and overgrazing of nesting areas has lead to the spread of avian diseases and habitat destruction on their summer range.

Hunting snow geese 
In an effort to manage the exploding population of snow geese, federal and state wildlife agencies issued a conservation order in 1999 authorizing a special late light goose season.

Colorado hunting regulations allow for unlimited take of snow geese east of I-25 from Feb. 13 thru April 30.  The requirement to purchase a federal waterfowl hunting stamp has been waived and hunters are allowed to use unplugged shotguns and electronic calls.

This year’s late light goose season starts Feb. 13.

Snow goose hunters may use “unplugged” shotguns – guns capable of holding more than three shells – to aid in taking light geese during the special conservation order season. Hunters are reminded that unplugged shotguns are permitted during the Light Goose Conservation Order season only and may not be used for any other species or season dates.

Special conservation order hunting regulations remain in effect until April 30. Hunters who choose to remove plugs from their shotguns must replace them prior to next year’s fall hunting seasons.

Hunters interested in learning more, are invited to attend a waterfowl-hunting seminar Sat., Feb. 25, 1 to 4 p.m. at the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Office at 2500 S. Main St. in Lamar.  For more information, call 719-336-6600.

For more information about the late light goose conservation season go to:

Thursday Feb. 23, 2012
4 p.m. to 8 p.m. – Registration/Hospitality Gathering 
Pick up registration packets for the weekend’s activities at the Shore Arts Center, 115 S. Main St., in downtown Lamar at the official kick-off for the festival. Meet folks, ask questions, enjoy hors d’oeuvres and the music of the local “Take Five” Jazz Quintet and local artist’s creations.  Shore Arts Center, 115 S. Main St.
Friday Feb. 24, 2012
8 a.m. to 5 p.m. – Amache, Sand Creek and More… Tour
Take a step back in time on this tour to visit sites of historical significance. Discover the Amache, Relocation Camp, a Japanese internment facility during World War II. Tour the Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site, location of the massacre of hundreds of Cheyenne and Arapaho. Visit the Towner Bus Memorial, Wildhorse Creek School and Speer Prairie Ranch, Trail City and Holly. Buy your own lunch in Holly.  We will provide the bus, snacks and tour guide. The bus and outdoor tour costs $25 per person.  Meet At Lamar High School, 1900 S. 11th St., Lamar.

8 a.m. to 5 p.m. – South Canyon Tour
Enjoy a day full of history, scenery and birding in the grasslands and canyon country in the southeast corner of Colorado.  Visit Picture Canyon and Carrizo Canyon in the Comanche National Grasslands.  See petrolgyphs on the canyon walls.  Hear stories of more recent human settlement in the area.  We will provide the bus, box lunch, snacks and tour guide.  The bus and outdoor tour costs $25 per person.  Meet At Lamar High School.

1 p.m. to 5 p.m. – Two Buttes Birding Tour
What a gem, a hidden canyon in the rolling plains of SE Colorado.  Two Buttes Reservoir State Wildlife Area, also known as “The Black Hole” is an oasis, and a must-see when birding this corner of the state, especially during spring migration.  Ted Floyd, from American Birding Association will guide this trip.  Will include some easy walking to explore the area.  Travel by bus, cost $ 15.  Meet At Lamar High.

4 to 8 p.m. – Registration/Hospitality Gathering
Meet folks, ask questions, enjoy hors d’oeuvres and listen to the musical talents of the “Take Five” Jazz Quintet. Shore Arts Center, 115 S. Main St.

8 to 9 p.m.  – Mastodons in Snowmass? – NEW
On Oct. 14, 2010, a bulldozer operator uncovered a partial mammoth skeleton in the Ziegler Reservoir near Snowmass Village, Colorado. Within two weeks, it was clear that the site also contained the bones of mastodon and other ice age mammals. The Denver Museum of Nature & Science responded by launching one of the largest fossil digs in the state’s history, deploying 178 diggers and assembling a team of 38 scientists to analyze the results. The excavation revealed an amazing series of high-elevation ice age ecosystems and yielded more than 5,000 bones from over 40 species of mammals, amphibians, reptiles and birds.  Dr. Ian Miller will tell this fascinating story.  This program is free and open to the public.  Lamar High School Auditorium, 1900 S. 11th St., Lamar.
Saturday Feb. 25, 2012
All day Saturday in the Lamar High School Gym – Nature Arts and Crafts Fair 
Come see artisans displaying their creations, including artworks, photography and crafts.  Check out the Silent Auction – place your bids before the banquet.  Visit with staff at the informational booths from Comanche National Grasslands, National Park Service, John Martin Reservoir, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, Pueblo Raptor Center, Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory, and more.
Silent Auction
Located in the Lamar High School Gym on Saturday.
Birds of Prey – Up Close
Visit the Pueblo Raptor Center booth to see some of their live hawks, eagles or owls up close – all day Saturday in the Lamar High School Gym.  Indoors.
Kids’ Zone
Visit the Kids’ Zone for hands-on fun activities for kids of all ages.  All day Saturday in the Lamar High School Gym.  Indoors.
7:30 a.m. to noon – John Martin History Tour – NEW
Tour sites of interest in Bent County beginning with the Star School, a one-room schoolhouse, followed by Bent’s New Fort, the sequel to Bent’s Old Fort NHS.  Visit John Martin Reservoir to learn about the dinosaurs that roamed there.  Finally, visit Yoga at the Ranch, a unique blend of art, history and modern day.  Travel by bus, cost $15.  Meet At Lamar High School.
8 a.m. to noon – Breakfast and Raptor Tour with Ted Floyd
Join this limited tour with Ted Floyd from the American Birding Association.  Enjoy a wonderful breakfast at Chez DuVall’s Restaurant in Granada before touring the grasslands in an area known for several species of raptors and then, the bottomlands of the Arkansas River for ducks and passerines.  Bus and breakfast is included in the $50 cost per person.  Indoors and outdoors, minimal walking.  Meet the bus for this limited tour at Lamar High School.  
8 a.m. to 9 a.m. – Morning Bird Walk
Enjoy a morning walk through Lamar Community College Woods, one of the sites on the Colorado Birding Trail.  Seth Gallagher from Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory will lead and provide assistance in locating and identifying winter birds.  Meet at north Trailhead, outdoors behind Lamar Community College, 2401 S. Main St., Lamar.

9 a.m. – Discoveries from Bird Banding – NEW
How far do birds migrate?  Where do they go?  How long do they live?  Kacie Ehrenberger from the Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory will tell of the many amazing things we have learned from bird banding. It is the process of capturing, banding and releasing birds, and collecting lots of data that tells who, when and where of migratory birds.  Indoors at Lamar High School Auditorium.
10 a.m.            – Wild Turkeys in Colorado – NEW
Wild turkeys are a favorite to many; they played an important role to native people throughout history and still are a prominent sight on our landscape today.  Learn about the history of wild turkey management in Colorado from Colorado Parks and Wildlife Biologist Jonathan Reitz.  Indoors at Lamar High School classroom.

11 a.m. to 2 p.m. – HAYRIDE
Bring the kids and enjoy a short hayride with your family and friends…  FREE, weather permitting.  Leaving every 20 or 30 minutes from in front of Lamar High School.
11 a.m. – Birds of Prey – LIVE.
Hawks, eagles and owls are birds of prey – big predators in the bird world.  See live birds from the Pueblo Raptor Center.  Diana Miller will tell of their efforts to rehabilitate injured and orphaned raptors.  Indoors at Lamar High School Auditorium.
Noon – Bird ID Basics – NEW
Just getting started in birding, or overwhelmed by finding your feathered guest in your field guide?  John Koshak has some tips for you to start to make some sense out of the birds that fly by.  Indoors at Lamar High School classroom.
Noon – Black-footed Ferrets – an Endangered Species – LIVE. – NEW
See a live ferret and hear about their key role in   prairie ecosystems.  Visit the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo booth between noon and 1 p.m., which will then be followed by a program at 1 p.m. to hear about the struggle of this rare mammal and the captive breeding effort that saved them from extinction.  Indoors in the Lamar High School Gym.
1 p.m. – Wild about BFF’s… Black-footed Ferrets. – NEW
Black-footed Ferrets were thought to be extinct until a small population was discovered in 1981 in Wyoming.  Since then wildlife agencies and partners have made great progress in captive breeding and reintroducing them into the wild.  Hear their story from the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo staff that run a breeding facility and will bring a live ferret along as their ambassador.  Indoors at Lamar High School Auditorium.

1 p.m. to 4 p.m. – Waterfowl Hunting Seminar
Colorado Parks and Wildlife District Wildlife Manager Rick Gardner will present information about hunting waterfowl on the eastern plains of Colorado. Topics will range from the basics for beginners, to tips and techniques for the seasoned hunter. Indoors at the Colorado Parks and Wildlife classroom.

1 p.m. – Colorado’s Wonderful Wildlife
A photographic exploration of the amazing wildlife found in Colorado by photographer Ron Drummond.  Indoors at Lamar High School classroom.
2 p.m. – Bent’s New Fort
Did you know that the Bent brothers built a NEW fort after the abandonment of Bent’s Old Fort in 1849 just a few miles down the Arkansas River?  Hear the story of this lesser-known adventure from National Park Staff about trading with the plains Indians and trappers.  Indoors at Lamar High School Auditorium.
2 p.m. – Falconry Demonstration
The Art of Falconry – hunting with real birds of prey.  A live demonstration with presenters Cathy and Bob Tintinger.  Travel just south of town, outdoors, minimal walking. Meet bus at Lamar High School.  Outdoors, weather permitting.

3 p.m. – Wildlife Photography
Join Steve Goodman to learn more about wildlife photography, tips, tricks and how to get that great photo with moving subjects in changing conditions.  Steve has travelled far and wide and has amazing photos and experiences to share.  Indoors at Lamar High School Auditorium.

3:30 p.m. – Bird Walk in LCC Woods
Guided stroll through the riparian area behind the college to look for winter birds before they settle in for the night.  Meet at north Trailhead, outdoors behind Lamar Community College, 2401 S. Main St, Lamar.

3:30 to 6:30 p.m. – John Martin Sunset Tour – NEW
John Martin Reservoir and surrounding habitat brings in many birds and other wildlife.  Winters with open water can attract bald eagles, snow geese, waterfowl as well as resident deer, bobcat and coyote.  Join this guided tour to see winter residents, watch the sunset and flocks of snow geese coming to roost on the water.  Bus and outdoor tour, cost $10 per person.  Meet At Lamar High School.

4 p.m. – Southeast Colorado Heritage and the Santa Fe Trail – NEW
Discover the rich history of this area – Native Americans, pioneers, bison, fur traders, explorers, wagon trains, settlers and much more.  Indoors at Lamar High School classroom.

7 p.m. – Evening Banquet – Social hour begins at 6:30
Join us for a delicious banquet, must pre-register.  Festival Grand Prizes will be awarded here, must be present to win.  Adults $ 20, Children 6-12 yrs $10.  At the Elks Lodge, 28157 US Hwy 287, Lamar, two miles south of the stoplight at Savage Ave. and Main St.

8 p.m. – The Ten Greatest Places on Earth – NEW
Ted Floyd is the Editor of Birding, the flagship publication of the American Birding Association.  He is also the author of three bird books, and he has published more than 100 articles on birds and other aspects of nature.  Ted is a frequent guest at bird festivals and other birding events, both in his home state of Colorado and across the globe.  He has served on the boards of several nonprofit organizations, including Colorado Field Ornithologists.  Ted is interested in anything to do with birds and birding, especially these topics: nocturnal flight calls, molt migration, “green” birding, the sociology of birding, and, most of all, birding with children. Ted Floyd’s banquet presentation will be titled “The 10 Greatest Places on Earth.”  Some of these places you will have heard of.  Some of them you probably will not have.  In any event, Ted’s special perspective on these 10 great places will surely surprise you.   At the Elks Lodge, 28157 US Hwy 287, Lamar, two miles south of the stoplight at Savage Ave. and Main St.
Sunday Feb. 26, 2012
5:15 to 10:30 a.m. – Sunrise Tour
Watch the snow geese wake up and fly off to their feeding grounds.  Tour State Wildlife Areas and farm fields to see a variety of waterfowl and other cool birds including bald eagles, sandhill cranes, ducks and shorebirds.  Warm up with a hearty breakfast and good company indoors at the Eads Community Center before the trip back to Lamar.  The $15 cost per adult includes breakfast.  Children under the age of six are free.  Outdoor tour by bus, meet at the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Office, 2500 S. Main St., Lamar.

Contact Name: Michael Seraphin
Contact Phone: 719.227.5211

For more news about Division of Wildlife go to:
For more information about Division of Wildlife go to:




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