Blog posts

Through the North Woods 1

We’ve seen some big movements within the past week, and only one tagged owl (that we know of) remains on its wintering grounds. That one is Oswego, who is still hanging out on little Bass Island in eastern Lake Ontario, with occasional side trips to the mainland and even tinier Gull Island — this last a state wildlife management area with nesting colonies of black-crowned night-herons and herring gulls, who may not appreciate the hungry attention of a snowy owl. (Bass Island is privately owned.) After earlier issues with its voltage, the transmitter appears to functioning perfectly. Everyone else appears to be on the move. Chickatawbut, who had been among the Isles of Shoals off the New Hampshire/Maine coast for the past […]

On and Off the Grid 1

More and more snowies are moving north, dropping out of cell range for the summer — but we were pleased to get a big data dump from Oswego, who had been AWOL for the past month. Oswego, you’ll recall, had slipped off our radar at the beginning of March, after her transmitter showed a curious lack of solar recharge. Unsure whether the issue was mechanical or the effects of persistent clouds along Lake Ontario, Tom McDonald (who had captured and tagged her) made an effort to find and recapture Oswego but came up dry. On April 1, however, Oswego check in again, sending incomplete data from the previous month. Two things were clear. The reason Tom couldn’t find her around […]

Oh, Canada!

  Due to a glitch, this update scheduled for Tuesday April 4 didn’t post — sorry for the delay, and we’ll have a further update on the latest movements of the owls in another day or so. The Project SNOWstorm team ——————— It’s definitely spring, and robins and geese aren’t the only birds making serious tracks to the north. After a quiet spell, there’s suddenly a whole lot going on with SNOWstorm’s tagged owls. Dakota was missing in action last week, but yesterday morning at 4 a.m. I heard my phone buzzing, and when I groggily read the text, I found a CTT notification that her transmitter had checked in. No wonder she’d been off our radar — she was […]

Chickatawbut Chows Down 1

One of the coolest aspects of Project SNOWstorm’s tracking has been documenting the extent to which some snowy owls hunt waterbirds over open water, a practice long recognized by snowy owl researchers like SNOWstorm co-founder Norman Smith, but rarely quantified in any way until now. Readers here will recall that earlier this month, Norman tagged Chickatawbut, a juvenile female owl trapped at Logan Airport in Boston and relocated to the mouth of the Merrimack River near Newburyport, Mass. She’s been regular and fairly easy for observers to find, and last week local photographer Sean Riley got some great photos of Chickatawbut feeding on a red-throated loon at Parker River National Wildlife Refuge, on the south side of the river mouth. […]

Congratulations to Lauren Gilpatrick 2

For the past several years, biologist Lauren Gilpatrick at the Biodiversity Research Institute in Maine has been a great partner here at Project SNOWstorm — not just working with her colleagues in the field to get Maine snowy owls tagged and tracked, but lending her artistic skills to the cause by donating her exceedingly cool Burly Bird snowy owl stickers as perks for our fundraising efforts. We’re delighted to congratulate Lauren on receiving the 2017 Award of Meritorious Service this month from the  Maine Wildlife Society, an award with specifically highlights her work with SNOWstorm (and which has a lovely snowy owl right on Lauren’s plaque). We couldn’t agree more with the society’s praise for her “long-standing commitment to wildlife […]

Weekly Update: Loop-d-loops

A fairly quiet report this week, although several of our birds continue to show signs of seasonal wanderlust, with several of them making looping rambles that wound up where they started. Running down the roster from east to west, Wells remains in southern Quebec along the St. Lawrence River. After spending much of last week near the town of Saint-Henri, where she’d been on March 17, she moved north 13.5 km (8.5 miles) to the edge of Desjardins, across the river from Quebec City. Instead of farmland, she was using a large empty lot next to the Sheraton Levis Convention Centre, across the street from a Subway sandwich shop. Tired of voles, perhaps? Down in Massachusetts, Chickatawbut continues near the […]

Trouble Commenting? Help is Coming! 1

If you’ve had trouble commenting on our latest posts, we’ve just learned why — the system that we use was permanently disabled recently, without notice to users like us. We will be updating to a new system in the coming days, and expect to be able to open up commenting again very soon. Sorry for the inconvenience!

Getting Restless 1

We expect to see some restlessness as the spring days get longer — even after a major snowstorm, which much of the Northeast this past week. And we saw some of that behavior this time, along with transmissions from a couple of AWOL owls. After skipping a week, Dakota came back online after some sunshine on the Canadian prairies, and uploaded more than 600 GPS points — all of them on her long, narrow winter territory near Francis, SK. Chase Lake down in North Dakota continues to use the farmland and prairie near Woodworth, including some big center-pivot irrigated fields. Wells also came back within cell range, having been out in the mouth of the St. Lawrence River in Quebec […]

Time to Head…South?

The past 10 days has been an interesting period, with some unexpected movements, some owls sticking close to their usual haunts, and a couple of absent snowies that may indicate that spring migration is really getting underway (or could just be low batteries). Favret, the adult female tagged in upstate New York by Tom McDonald, had initially moved north to Wolfe Island on the Ontario side of easternmost Lake Ontario at the end of February. But at the beginning of the month she started moving south again, back across Cape Vincent where she was tagged, down to Sackett’s Harbor, NY, by March 3, and down to North Sandy Pond near the village of Sandy Creek, NY by March 5, a […]

Chickatawbut and ISOWG

We’re tracking a new owl at Project SNOWstorm — and she has an unusually distinguished pedigree, given the circumstances of her tagging. She’s a juvenile female named Chickatawbut, captured March 7 at Logan Airport in Boston by SNOWstorm co-founder Norman Smith of Massachusetts Audubon, and released the next day at Salisbury Beach, close to the New Hampshire border. Our newest tagged snowy is named for Chickatawbut Hill in the Blue Hills Reservation, a 6,000-acre (2,428 ha.) preserve just outside Boston. And Chickatawbut is also the site of Mass Audubon’s environmental education center (named, we’re pleased to note, in Norman’s honor), which was the location for the fourth triennial meeting of the International Snowy Owl Working Group (ISOWG), bringing together experts […]