This is the month for a unique Montana nature event - the yearly migration of snow geese at Freezout Lake southwest of Great Falls. Those who have seen the "liftoff" of thousands of the migrating birds never forget it. But the actual days of the migration vary from year to year.

The Freezout Lake Wildlife Management Area is managed by Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks. They used to have a a recorded telephone line to let people know the status of the migrations of several species of birds, including the snow geese. Now they have a website that has the information you need before you hop in the car and head on over.

Freezout Lake is in the flight path for at least eleven species of birds and some of them nest at the wildlife management area. The birds usually stop and feed in the nearby fields before taking to the air to continue their flights. However, last year was a good year for some of the birds stickin' around. Officials reported over 100 nests of the Western and Clark's Grebe, along with nests of Forster's Tern, Common Tern, Black-crowned Night-Heron and Double-crested Cormorant. Last year saw a return of Franklin's Gulls, too. The management area is 12,000 acres in size with Freezout Lake, Priest Butte Lakes and a series of ponds.

During the busiest weekends, the birds will leave the ponds in the early mornings to feed in the fields and return in the late afternoons. Those are the times when the spectacle occurs with the snow geese (photo above). The Freezout Lake Wildlife Management Area is in Teton County, along Highway 89 between Fairfield and Choteau. It is open year-round. To get more information, check the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks website. At the top of page you'll see "Conservation." Click on it, then select "WMAs" on the left and scroll to Freezout. It's a "pack it in, Pack it out" site. And have warm clothes.

moon and geese
Snow geese and the moon. (Mike Daniels Photo)
people and geese
On high migration days, you will not be alone. (Mike Daniels Photo)

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