Happy Birthday to Us

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On this day five years ago, my phone rang not long after breakfast. It was my friend and colleague Dave Brinker, a biologist with Maryland’s Natural Heritage program. He was calling because of something we’d both been watching with growing interest and amazement — the almost unprecedented invasion of snowy owls coming south into eastern North America, which was playing … 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

Chaumont, and an Owl Called Hardscrabble

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Tom McDonald has been putting in the hours — and the miles — this winter, as he has for more than 25 years of doing snowy owl work. But he really shifted into high gear the past two weeks, after Chaumont moved from Amherst Island in Ontario back across the border into New York. That gave Tom his first opportunity … Read More

All Roads Lead to Amherst

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We’ve been talking all winter about how Amherst Island in Ontario has a reputation as an internationally famous owl mecca — and the fact that three of our tagged snowies have been wintering there only confirmed that distinction. Well, make it four. This week Tibbetts, who had been wandering around the New York side of the St. Lawrence near Chaumont … Read More

The Three Amigos, and Other Owls

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It’s always a little thrill when the cell phone vibrates and the text messages start coming in: “CTT Data Update: Unit #27236551 (Salisbury 4Y Male) has checked in.” And then another, and another, until we have the weekly report from our far-flung tribe. The three amigos (well, two amigos and an amiga) were back together on Amherst Island this past … Read More

Weekend Update: Jan. 30

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It was a pretty quiet week for our tagged owls — though one of them was courting danger, briefly back at an airport we’d really hoped he would avoid. We’ll start with¬†Flanders, who¬†remained on the north shore of Lake Ontario, having ambled back southeast of Napanee, Ontario, to the farmland around Hawley, just a few kilometers from the lakeshore. After … Read More

Tibbetts Joins the Crew

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Tom McDonald just got back from a long, hard trapping trip to upstate New York, which he said was “nothing short of grueling. The weather conditions were perfect but the God of trapping luck was not with me…until Tibbetts stepped into the bow trap.” Not that getting this adult male snowy was easy. Tom spent six hours over the course … Read More

Three’s a Crowd?

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Most winters, Amherst Island is one of the best places to find snowy owls, and that’s certainly the case this year — especially if you’re looking for a snowy owl with a Project SNOWstorm transmitter. Two of our owls, Flanders and Baltimore, have been on Amherst for the past month or so. And although Flanders moved off the island last … Read More