It’s that time of year, when the first snowy owls are starting to appear south of the Arctic — a few have popped up in southern Ontario and the Great Lakes region in recent weeks, and quite a few in the Canadian prairies in southern Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta.
This will be Project SNOWstorm’s 11th season of snowy owl research, as we wait for previously transmittered birds to come back south in the weeks ahead, and look toward tracking new owls this winter, each of which will add to our rapidly growing understanding of this species’ winter ecology. But there’s also been a lot of work going on in the so-called off-season, too, and we’re anxious to share more about that with you in the weeks ahead. In the meantime, there’s a summary here of what we’ve been up to.
As has been the case from its start in December 2013, SNOWstorm remains funded entirely by donations from the public (tax-deductible for U.S. taxpayers; apologies to our many Canadian friends). And as has also been the case from the beginning, no one on the SNOWstorm team takes any kind of salary or stipend — we’re all volunteers here, so all the funds we raise go directly into the field or the lab, covering the costs of transmitters, GSM data fees or satellite time for the data transmission, toxicology and other lab analysis, and covering basic expenses like fuel, food and lodging for our collaborators when they’re in the field trapping for us.
To that end, we’ve launched our 2023-24 GoFundMe campaign, with a goal of $15,000 USD. We’ve been fortunate, over the past decade, to have established a network of loyal and generous supporters. Whether you’re brand new to SNOWstorm, or have been with us from the beginning, we thank you. We think we’ve shown that we are very good stewards of your generosity.
This year we’re trying something new. We’re partnering with Destination: Wildlife of New York to offer an eight-day winter raptor-watching trip in late January and early February, 2024. Covering upstate New York, the Thousand Islands area along the St. Lawrence River, and Wolfe and Amherst Islands in southern Ontario, the trip will visit dozens of locations noted for their winter hawks and owls — including snowies, if this is a good flight winter. Best of all, a portion of the tour fee is a tax-deductible donation to Project SNOWstorm, to help us continue our research. We’ll post details of the trip, and how to sign up, in the next couple of days.