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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

A Perch with an Historical View (and a Big Thank You!)

Some weeks are exciting, some weeks are more of the even-keel variety. This is one of the latter — but we do have a terrific milestone to note, with gratitude. Our five tagged owls have all settled into winter territories, including Wells, who initially had us worried that she’d hightail it back to the Portland (Maine) airport where she’d been caught. Fortunately she seems to have found a spot she likes. While it doesn’t necessarily make for exciting reports, the data all of these stay-at-home owls are generating as they move about their winter territories is exactly what we started SNOWstorm to gather — highly detailed information about the habitat selection, winter movement and hunting ecology of snowy owls. And ever […]

Trying for Baltimore 2

Like parents, we try not to pick favorites — but over the years, Baltimore has become first among equals in the 45 snowy owls we’ve tagged. Banded in 2014 and given a transmitter in 2015, we’ve tracked Baltimore north and back over several years, generating the most detailed movement record for any snowy owl, anywhere. So we were thrilled on Dec. 25 when Baltimore checked in again this winter in southern Ontario. As is usually the case, his battery was depleted from having stayed north in the dark subarctic winter. But even with the dim winter sun, his voltage was creeping up, and we were getting chunk after chunk of his backlogged data, just as we did last winter. But […]

Wandering Wells 1

In our last update, we mentioned that Wells — the newly relocated airport owl — was sticking close to her release site at Rachel Carson NWR in southern Maine…at least for the first day or so. That didn’t last long, however. She checked in Thursday night, and Wells lit out pretty quickly — possibly pushed out by an untagged snowy that’s been hanging around the town of Wells and Wells Beach. Snowies can be highly territorial, and an established bird might not appreciate an intruder. Wells moved rapidly up the coast about 20 miles (32 km) on Jan. 28 and 29, as though she was heading right back to the Portland Jetport where she was initially captured. Fortunately, she stopped […]