Papers in the Biological Sciences


Date of this Version



Originally published 1974 by Anchor Press/Doubleday. Copyright © 1974 Paul A. Johnsgard; "Afterword" copyright © 2009 Paul A. Johnsgard. Online electronic edition published by University of Nebraska–Lincoln Libraries, Lincoln, Nebraska 2009.


As a boy in North Dakota, Paul Johnsgard measured his winters, not by conventional time units, but in the days it took for the snow geese to return from their wintering grounds to Lake Traverse. In early April, with hip boots, camera, and binoculars, he awaited the arrival of the first flocks from the Gulf of Mexico. Johnsgard was not alone in admiring the beauty and strength of the snow goose. For centuries this bird has signified the passing seasons to the Indians—its white feathers a symbol of the breath of life and a reminder of the roles the birds played as messengers between heaven and earth. The importance of the geese in these roles is evidenced by their prominence in Indian lore and myth.

In this book the author relates the life cycle of the snow goose and its migrations. He describes its travels and the dangers it faces from hunters who kill up to 300,000 birds each year. Song of the North Wind contains twenty-seven photographs taken by the author and seventeen original drawings by Paul Geraghty. “Animal art,” writes illustrator Paul Geraghty, “has been concerned with how animals look—today we should perhaps be concerned with what animals mean.” Geraghty has worked as an artist for the Royal Ontario Museum for the past eight years. His innovative drawings have appeared in many magazines deVoted to natural history.

This online electronic edition contains a new “Afterword” by the author, with updated migration maps and additional bibliographical references.

Mozilla Firefox users: There is a known bug in the Firefox PDF plug-in (which opens PDFs within the browser window) that will crash if a file exceeds its buffer size. It will tell you “The file is damaged and cannot be repaired” (which is not true). There are 3 remedies:
1. Right-click and download the PDF outside the browser (i.e., “Save link as ...”)
2. Change your Firefox settings to open PDFs with regular Adobe Reader (or Acrobat) instead of the plug-in version. This is reached under Tools > Options > Applications. PDF files will then open in a separate Adobe Reader (or Acrobat) window, not inside the browser window.
3. Download the file with Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, etc.

Included in

Ornithology Commons