The Wrong Kind of News

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This was supposed to be a good-news story — tagging our first Maine owl of the year, a bird moved from a busy airport to the safety of a national wildlife refuge. Unfortunately, it’s turned out instead to be a sober reminder of the many dangers that snowy owls face when they come south. On Dec. 6 USDA Wildlife Services, … Read More

Wells, Our Newest Maine Owl

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As longtime SNOWstorm followers know, one benefit of our project is finding ways to help airport officials and federal wildlife agencies learn how snowy owls relate to airports. (Because airports look a little like the Arctic, at least to an owl — flat, open and treeless — they tend to be magnets for the birds.) Last year we cooperated with Maine Wildlife Services, … Read More

Into the North

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Apologies for the gap in updates — everyone at Project SNOWstorm does this as a volunteer, and this past week a number of us were out of touch and in the field, leading birding trips or studying nesting goshawks, among other day-job kinds of things. But there have been some interesting developments in the past week and a half that … Read More

Down to the End?

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It’s that time of year — not a lot to report, because almost all of our tagged owls have moved out of earshot, so to speak. This past week, only two birds remained within cell range: Hardscrabble and Brunswick. Brunswick is still hunkered down in the Isle of Shoals, though I suspect the attraction is eiders, gulls and other waterbirds, … Read More

Wampum’s Gone

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Dancing around bad news never makes it any easier to give or receive, so I’ll simply say that we lost an owl last week, and it still feels like a punch to the gut. It was Wampum, the adult female who had been playing with fire much of the winter at several New England airports. She was found dead Thursday … Read More

Casco’s Grand Tour

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Casco — our second Maine owl, tagged in late February — pulled a bit of a disappearing act earlier this month. After being captured at the Portland, Maine, airport, she was released Down East, in a complex of immense blueberry barrens in Washington County, ME, close to the Canadian border. Casco quickly moved a couple hundred miles north, crossing into … Read More

The Pull of the Pole

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There’s no longer any doubt that spring is pulling many of our tagged snowy owls back home toward the Arctic. In the past week we’ve seen several birds make flights north, while others have dropped off the grid, apparently having moved beyond cell range. For example, Hardscrabble and Tibbetts both left their wintering grounds on the northeast shore of Lake … Read More

Spring is in the Air

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If you live in the Northeast, you didn’t need much of a hint that spring is coming early this year — it was T-shirt weather across much of the region this week. Here in Pennsylvania, where I live, sheets of migrant tundra swans, Canada and snow geese were papering the skies the past few mornings, and spring peepers and wood … Read More

Buckeye’s Back!

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Here in the northern hemisphere, the days are getting noticeably longer — and that’s having an effect on birds of all sorts, including snowy owls. The past week or two we’ve started seeing some significant movement — not migration, and not necessarily northbound, but a sign of seasonal restlessness setting in. And with predictions for dramatically warmer weather across much … Read More

Owls, West to East and in Between

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It’s been an exciting week with our two new owls, Hardscrabble and Casco, but of course we still have a lot going on with our other tagged snowies — so let’s get to the update. Starting out West, Dakota continues to shift between her northern and southern hunting areas in the northeastern corner of Stutsman County, North Dakota, this fascinating … Read More