Aleutian Geese Fly Off

3/4/2017 - 3/5/2017

Put on your boots, grab a cup of coffee and get ready for a truly unique experience. 

It’s pre-dawn on a bracing early spring morning at Humboldt Bay National Wildlife Refuge.  Tendrils of fog drift across the refuge from the nearby Pacific Ocean.  A building symphony of wild geese sounds in the distance fills the ears long before anything can be seen. Suddenly, the first wave of 15,000 Aleutian cackling geese lifts off from their night roost and burst into the air!  All eyes are riveted skyward as the geese lift off.  The pungent smells of the marsh fill the nostrils.  All senses are engaged in the spectacle; observers are left in awe!  -  Denise Seeger, Visitor Services HBNWR

Get there early, the gate opens 5:45 am for a 6:45 sunrise and the parking lot fills up fast.   
The geese fly-off  occurs within 15 minutes before or after sunrise.  Bring a mug for coffee, tea, or cocoa donated by Friends of Humboldt Bay National Wildlife Refuge

Family fun activities inside the Visitor Center will take place 7:00 a.m. to 11 a.m.

The Aleutian geese (a sub-species of the Canada goose) are on their annual winter/spring trek from the Central Valley via the Pacific flyway -- to their nesting grounds in the Aleutian islands in Alaska. They stop for only a few months in Northern California and Southern Oregon to feed on grasses rich with protein.

Besides its smaller size than the Canada goose, another way to recognize this cackling goose is by a white collar ring at the base of its long black neck.

This is a FREE event
At Humboldt Bay NWRC take Hookton Rd exit off Hwy 101 near Loleta


Wildlife Refuge

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1020 Ranch Rd
Hookton Road Exit
Loleta, CA

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  • Gates open at 5:45am - sunrise is 6:45am event is on rain or shine.
  • Watch the geese take launch as daylight begins
  • Guided walks at sunrise - Interpretive stations on trail during fly-off
  • Fun educational family activities will be offered from 7 a.m. - 11 a.m.