Meet Goose #579, One of a Distinguished Few

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In July 2008 this Cackling Goose and 82 others of its ilk were captured and banded by refuge biologists on the remote, uninhabited Semidi Islands, part of the Aleutian archipelago in Alaska. Every summer, the geese gather to breed on these isles—included within Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge—and nowhere else. Because of their site-specific fidelity, the approximately 150 individuals are considered a sub-population of Aleutian Cackling Geese. Goose #579 is one such individual, a bird that seems to know precisely where it's from and where it's going in life.

Goose #579 has migrated annually from its favored pastures at Nestucca Bay in Pacific City back to Semidi Islands to breed each spring. These short-grass pastures support nearly one hundred percent of the wintering population of Semidi Islands Aleutian Cackling Geese. Every evening, these geese leave the pastures and fly across a mile of ocean to roost on Haystack Rock—a portion of Oregon Islands National Wildlife Refuge. From Alaska to Oregon and back, the lives of #579 and company are bookended each year by respites on Refuge land.