Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version



Published in Great Plains Research Vol. 14, No. 1, 2004. Copyright © 2004 The Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska–Lincoln. Used by permission.


The Platte rivers and associated habitats are major wintering areas for Canada geese (Branta Canadensis) in Nebraska. The objective of this study was to examine changes in abundance and distribution of Canada geese along the Platte River system during 1960-2000. We used counts of Canada geese based on aerial surveys from the annual Mid-Winter Survey (MWS). The entire lengths of the North and South Platte rivers and the Platte River were surveyed, and counts of Canada geese were made by visual estimation. We examined changes in goose numbers for the North and South Platte rivers, and divided the Platte River into two main sections (Central and East) over four time periods (i.e., decades). There appeared to be change in the distribution of Canada geese along the Platte River system; however, wintering Canada geese increased (>500%) on all river sections from the decades 1960-1969 to 1990-2000. Changes in the distribution and abundance of wintering Canada geese along the Platte reflect increases in populations in the Central Flyway and habitat changes that have benefited wintering geese.