The Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area, just south of Kleinfeltersville, is bustling with tens of thousands of snow geese and other migratory birds – a seasonal spectacle that human visitors flock to as well.

The 6,254-acre Pennsylvania Game Commission property is a major annual stopover for snow geese in the eastern U.S. when they make their way back up north to their Arctic breeding grounds. In addition to the snow geese, which can total over 100,000 at peak times, Canada geese and tundra swans also stop by Middle Creek in the thousands.

In the decades since the central impoundment was formed in the 1970s, the appearance of the birds has become a draw for both local and international visitors hoping to see as large a flock as possible. In 2019 and 2021, the peak number of snow geese appeared in the second week of March, while in other years, the geese peaked in the third and fourth weeks of February. The delay in some years can be attributed to several factors, including prolonged snow and ice coverage, as was the case last year.

During the day, the geese feed on the vegetation in the fields surrounding the lake, and at night, they roost on the lake itself. Icy conditions can make this routine difficult to follow.

The Willow Point stop is a short walk from Hopeland Road and is a popular viewing spot. (Groh)

Based on the most recent updates made by Middle Creek staff, the snow geese are still expected to peak soon. On Feb. 14, the number of geese reached 67,000, a drop from a higher 85,000 on Feb. 12 due to Sunday’s snowy weather. The warmer temperatures forecasted for later in the week may attract thousands more geese. However, it can be difficult to predict when exactly the peak will occur in any given year.

There are a several different options for viewing the flocks. Stops around the impoundment include the popular Willow Point trail and pavilion off of Hopeland Road and the White Oak picnic area along Millstone Road. Additionally, the Visitors Center at 100 Museum Road reopened to the public at the beginning of February, ending a period of closure that began in 2020.

The Visitors Center provides information, educational materials, and exhibits related to the ecology and wildlife of the area. It is open Tuesday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and on Sunday from 12 to 5 p.m. Staff requests that visitors wear masks while inside.

Read More: Pennsylvania Conservation Heritage Museum now under construction at Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area

If you’re planning to check out the migration, consider taking a sneak peek at the live webcam stream of the lake. During the day, many geese take to the surrounding fields to forage for food. It’s at sunrise and sunset that the number of birds on and over the waters is especially concentrated; Middle Creek recommends heading out before 7 a.m. or after 4 p.m. to see the largest numbers.

On March 1, the full tour road around the lake will open for its yearly season. Maps of the route and other trails at Middle Creek are available on the Game Commission website. For more information on visiting the area during the 2022 migration, check out this video that Middle Creek produced earlier this year.

YouTube video

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Joshua Groh

Josh Groh is a Cornwall native and writer who began reporting for LebTown in 2019. He continued to regularly contribute to LebTown while earning a degree in environmental science at Lebanon Valley College, graduating in 2021. Since then, he has lead conservation crews in Colorado and taken on additional...