STEVENS, Pa. (WHTM) — Every year, hundreds of thousands of snow geese migrate through Pennsylvania, stopping along the way to rest at the Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area in Lancaster County. Most recently on Feb. 23, there was a peak of approximately 70,000 snow geese on the lake at Middle Creek, according to notes from Middle Creek Manager Lauren Ferreri.

According to information on the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s website, snow geese are one of the most abundant waterfowl species in the world. Their populations are estimated to number between 10 and 20 million birds. They first began migrating through Middle Creek in the mid-1990s.

The birds migrate north to breed in the Arctic and subarctic regions of North America during the spring and summer, and they return south to wait out the cold winter, according to the Game Commission.

Middle Creek is one of six places in Pennsylvania that is an internationally designated Important Bird Area by Audubon and BirdLife International, Ferreri noted. There are certain areas of the wildlife management area that are off-limits to people to help protect the snow geese and other birds who take refuge there.

But that doesn’t mean that plenty of people don’t also visit the site and have opportunities to observe the magnificent migration. The masses of birds attract masses of people, with around 150,000 guests visiting the wildlife management area each year, Ferreri said. There can be more than 10,000 visitors over warm weekends.

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The snow geese attract visitors from Lancaster, Harrisburg, Lebanon, Philadelphia, and even New York City, Baltimore, and Washington D.C. Ferreri said before the COVID-19 pandemic, Middle Creek would even welcome some international visitors, all coming to see the snow geese.

“You take for granted when you work here every day how people come to see this place from so far away, and it’s humbling when you are part of that, that you have a place that people really ‘flock’ to,” Ferreri said. “The beauty is that we can be this destination, yet be the location for nature lovers locally, in their backyard.”

“At Middle Creek, I think being in nature — whether you’re hiking or coming to see the snow goose migration where you see this spectacle of hundreds of thousands of birds in one location — kind of takes us back a little bit ancestrally, if you will, to this connection that we did have with the land, and I think a lot of people do forget about that until they have the opportunity to be in that space and they do feel that connection,” Ferreri said.

For the least crowded experience, Ferreri recommends coming to Middle Creek on a weekday evening or early in the morning on weekends. Sunrise provides the best views of the snow geese, Ferreri said. This Pennsylvania Game Commission website has more information about how to see the snow geese as well as updates on their migration.