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
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
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
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.
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Update: June 2012