The saga of the geese began in 1947 after a flock of 12 large geese from Nebraska were released at Silver Lake. These geese, donated by a former Mayo Clinic patient, lured some of the few remaining giant Canada geese to Rochester. In 1948, after Rochester's new power plant began using Silver Lake for cooling water, the geese started staying on the ice-free lake throughout the winter. The geese began arriving each September, and by late November, they had settled in for the winter.
Some people believed that the Rochester flock was "special." Biologists confirmed that belief in 1962 when the geese were identified as Branta Canadensis Maxima (giant Canada geese.) This sub-species goose was believed to be extinct until Rochester's flock was discovered during a routine visit for banding and weighing.
Although similar to normal Canadian "honkers," the giant Canada's carry a few distinct differences from Western Canadians: they have longer necks, broader bills, and lighter plumage. Also, the average giant Canada weighs more (12 to 14) pounds compared with 8) and has a larger wing span (69 to 71 inches compared within 66.)
Rochester offers some of the most consistent goose hunting in the state, with an average annual migration of nearly 75,000 geese. Up to 35,000 geese will stage on Silver Lake on any given day, providing for fast action peaking in mid November through late December.