Forest Preserve District of Cook County, Illinois
Nature Bulletins
Newton Home Page

Introduction and Instructions

Search Engine

Table of Contents



McGinnis Geese
Nature Bulletin No. 89   October 26, 1946
Forest Preserve District of Cook County
Clayton F. Smith, President
Roberts Mann, Superintendent of Conservation

McGinnis Slough, a 315-acre shallow lake only 20 miles southwest from Chicago's Loop, is a crossroads stopover on the fall migration routes of many kinds of water-fowl. Tens of thousands of wild ducks are resting and feeding here. Big flocks of wild geese are passing over and some have stopped to rest.

In November there should be hundreds of Canada geese, Snow geese and Blue geese making McGinnis Slough their daytime refuge -- possibly a few Whistling swans. A stray pelican spent 10 days there this fall. On the south shore of Slough there have been erected two "blinds" for concealment of those who wish to observe or photograph the waterfowl.

The Canada Goose is a big brownish-gray bird weighing from 7 to 14 lbs., with a black neck and a black head marked with a large white patch on each cheek. As they fly, usually in V-shaped lines, sometimes in single sloping lines, they call now and then with resonant "honk- honks" that can be heard long before they are seen.

The Snow Goose is smaller, averaging about 5 lbs., and pure white except for black wing tips. The Blue Goose is the same size but dusky gray and brown with gray-black wings, white neck and white head. These two species frequently fly in mixed flocks and both are noisy whether in flight or feeding on the water. Their call is a single-syllabled "honk", higher pitched than the double-syllabled call of the Canada Goose.

Sunday morning, October 20, a flock of 30 Canada geese were resting on the center of McGinnis Slough when the clarion calls of another flock of "honkers" was heard, coming from the North. After warily circling the lake several times, they set their wings and glided down to the water.

Presently a faint chorus of single honks, resembling the jangling of distant bells, announced the passage, far overhead, of a flock of 90 Snow geese and 5 blues in a corporal's chevron of two wavering lines. They were like beautiful drifting snowflakes against the azure sky and they seemed to melt as they disappeared southwest -- their calls growing fainter and fainter -- on the long journey to the Gulf coast.

To return to the Nature Bulletins Click Here!
Hosted by NEWTON

NEWTON is an electronic community for Science, Math, and Computer Science K-12 Educators, sponsored and operated by Argonne National Laboratory's Educational Programs, Andrew Skipor, Ph.D., Head of Educational Programs.

For assistance with NEWTON contact a System Operator (, or at Argonne's Educational Programs

Educational Programs
Building 360
9700 S. Cass Ave.
Argonne, Illinois
60439-4845, USA
Update: June 2012
Sponsered by Argonne National Labs