Updates


Getting Restless

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 […]


Holding Patterns

It was a pretty quite week on the tracking front, with all of our owls — those still on winter territory, and those that have started to migrate — just biding their time. Out west, Dakota and Chase Lake remain on their respective territories in Saskatchewan and North Dakota. Oswego failed to check in again this week from her namesake town in New York, and Tom McDonald is looking into that — we’re not sure if we have a technical issue, or if something’s happened to the owl. Favret, our newest owl, was on Wolfe Island in eastern Lake Ontario. Hardscrabble continues to circle his huge woodlot near Cobden, Ontario, and Baltimore was seen as recently as March 1 near […]


Say Hello to Favret 1

The ever-busy Tom McDonald has tagged another snowy, an adult female on the shores of Lake Ontario — Favret, our 47th SNOWstorm owl. Tom caught Favret (that’s pronounced “fav-RAY”) the morning of Feb. 27 on Cape Vincent, at the eastern corner of Lake Ontario, one of the most important wintering areas for snowy owls in that region, and an area where Tom has been working with this species for decades. The name comes from Favret Road, along with which many snowies winter — and the road is named for the Favret family, descendants of early French settlers who had extensive land holdings in the area. “The road traverses some of the highest, wide-open agricultural land in Cape Vincent,” Tom said, […]


Coyote Graphics Fundraiser a Success! 1

Thanks to everyone who made our fundraiser with Michael Boardman and Coyote Graphics in Maine such a big success. You’ll recall that Michael offered to donate $5 to Project SNOWstorm for every owl-themed t-shirt that they sold — and they sold a bunch! By the end of the promotion Feb. 21, SNOWstorm supporters had ordered 90 Coyote shirts, which translates into a very nice $450 donation to our research. Thanks again to Coyote Graphics for their support of this and other bird-conservation efforts, and to everyone who purchased a shirt. Wear it proudly!


Wells is on Her Way

If you live anywhere in the Midwest or East, we don’t have to tell you that the past week was bizarrely warm, with record-high temperatures across a huge swath of the country. That weather — coupled with the longer days — may be having an effect on the snowy owls. And one in particular, because Wells has left the building. After spending the past month on the Maine coast, having been moved from the Portland Jetport, last week this adult female made a beeline north across the state, winding up in the flat farmland along the south shore of the Gulf of St. Lawrence in southern Quebec. Wells headed out after dusk on Feb. 18, stopping for a few hours […]


Catching Chase Lake

It’s been a rather frustrating winter for Matt Solensky, our Project SNOWstorm colleague in North Dakota. His hope (and ours) — that he would be able to quickly trap and tag a couple of prairie-hunting snowy owls this winter — proved to be a little too optimistic. Deep and crusted snow kept the number of owls in eastern North Dakota unusually low this season. On top of that, Matt had buzzard’s luck on the few times when came close to making a catch. In late January, for example, he had an adult male come barreling into his bownet, only to have the netting snag and the trap not close. Matt reset the trap, but while the owl made several more […]


Dakota and Hardscrabble: The Rest of the Story 1

As we’ve mentioned before, due to some unexplained hiccup the transmitters on our three returnee owls — Dakota, Hardscrabble and Baltimore — all experienced a glitch on Jan. 1, when they stopped downloading their backlogged GPS locations, leaving us without seven or eight months’ worth of stored movement data. Baltimore’s unit subsequently went completely dark (which is why we’ve tried repeatedly to recapture him), but our colleagues at CTT were able to check the other two transmitters remotely, and were confident they could recover the data from Hardscrabble and Dakota, once the owls’ solar-powered units hit a sufficient voltage level to handle an unusually long data transmission. So for the past several weeks we’ve been watching their voltage creep up […]


All Settled In

An all’s-well report on our cadre of snowies — as of the end of last week, everyone was just where he or she was expected to be. How long it remains that way, though, will be interesting to see. The days are getting longer, which may start nudging up hormone levels in our adult birds, making them restless with the first stirrings of spring. After heavy snows last week, parts of the East will be experiencing remarkable mild weather this week, although the really unseasonable warmth won’t push up into New England, New York and southern Canada. But if we have an unusually early spring, we may see the owls head north sooner than normal. We’re happy to see that […]