With the continuing cooperation of Falcon Environmental Services at Montréal-Trudeau International Airport, we have another tagged snowy owl in southern Québec — Dorval, an adult female named for a community that borders the airport and a nearby island in the St. Lawrence River.
Dorval is, as they say, “known to authorities” — she was first trapped at the airport on Jan. 26, 2017, and aged at the time as an after-third-year adult, meaning she was in at least her fourth calendar year of life, perhaps older. (There are limits to how precisely we can age owls based on their flight feather molt, but each time we recapture a previously banded owl and examine its molt pattern, we learn a little more.)
This time, she was trapped by FES staffer Julie Lecours on Saturday, Jan. 11, and fitted with a transmitter by Project SNOWstorm team member Rebecca McCabe, who is working on her Ph.D. at nearby McGill University analyzing our massive owl movement database.
“She weighed 2.6 kg [5.75 lbs.] and had a body condition index of 4-4.5” out of a possible 5, Rebecca reported, “so there must be a 24-hour buffet at the airport!” Rebecca moved Dorval 68 km (42 miles) southwest into Ontario, releasing her in farmland near the town of Bainsville.
Sad to say, Dorval hasn’t been terribly cooperative. She quickly crossed the St. Lawrence into Le Haut-Saint-Laurent regional county, the toe of Québec that juts between Ontario and the U.S. border. Dorval spent two days just a few miles north of Westville, NY, but then began drifting back toward Montréal.
In the wee hours of the night of Jan. 19-20 she crossed the river again, and has been back at the airport ever since, having made a 190-km (118-mile) trip since her capture — apparently that 24-hour buffet is just too tempting. FES will continue to try to catch and re-relocate her, and in the meantime, we hope she has learned enough in her many years to steer clear of the jets.