The Death of a Single Snow Goose
The Death of a Single Snow Goose was first published on our Natural Exposures Facebook page. I decided to bring it to the blog, since a huge part of this image is the backstory. Unfortunately, Twitter and Instagram don’t allow for the amount of text to tell that story, so I’ve posted it here for our followers. The text below the image is what appeared with the original post to Facebook.
The Backstory from Facebook
Nature is not always sunrises, sunsets, and paisley clouds. One of the aspects I enjoy most about being a nature photographer is its ability to snap me back to reality. When you spend a lot of time with animals you become acutely aware of how easy we humans have it.
This beautiful snow goose died right before my eyes last month in northern Montana. There was initially a huge flock feeding in this field of harvested wheat. As I approached, the group took flight by the thousands, except for this lone individual. At first I was excited. There right before me was a single majestic looking subject. It was an opportunity to see the individual separated from the crowd. But it soon became obvious that something wasn’t right. I stayed back at about 50 yards and analyzed the situation. He was initially standing but shaky. He wobbled side to side and I could see his determination to not give in to the gravity tugging him down. Within minutes his legs gave way and he dropped to the soil beneath his feet.
I wanted to help. I got on my cell phone and called a local vet, explained the situation, and was promised a call back. They needed to get the OK from US Fish & Wildlife Service, since a snow goose is a federally protected migratory bird. There are strict laws on how these birds must be treated, even when they’re dying. Unfortunately whatever caused his death did so quickly. Within 10 minutes of my call to the vet this beautiful creature gave out a tiny little honk as his head shot back and to the side where it came to rest just over his right wing. It all ended that quickly.
I know many will not stop to view this image. Most folks have no interest in seeing anything but a Disney fairytale. So be it. Others will take the time to study and reflect on not just the image but the story of how it happened. Then there are others who will think I’m flat out nuts! You care about one bird out of a flock of several thousand that are part of a species numbering as high as 15 million? There’s so many snow geese they actually have hunting seasons on them in the spring. But this was not about the numbers. It was about the individual. An individual goose in need that succumbed to the circle of life in the wheat fields of northern Montana. This image was shot with the Micro Four Thirds Lumix G9 with the Leica 12-60mm zoom.