When the weather starts getting cold in Skagit Valley, you might notice new visitors by the tens of thousands. Not humans – these visitors have wings.
From October to April, stunning snow geese find home at the Fir Island Farms Reserve Unit. The five- to six-pound white birds with distinguishable black-tipped wings and red-rose feet are truly a sight to behold.
"They're fantastic to watch. Absolutely incredible," said nature photographer Jill Hein. "A highlight of nature."
The Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife estimates 80,000 snow geese spend their winters in western Washington, grazing our fields as they prepare for a long migration.
"Such an incredible journey. I think it's a real privilege that they come here and we can see them like this."
As temperatures start rising mid-spring, it's time for the flock to head back home. They begin their journey north to Russia's Wrangel Island – more than 3,000 miles away.
The gorgeous geese aren't here for long, but they leave an impression that lasts.