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

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

Merrimack Closes the Season

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This week, Norman Smith tagged our ninth new owl of the winter, and our 43rd overall — Merrimack, an adult female that was the 31st snowy owl Norman caught and relocated this winter from Logan Airport in Boston. Weighing a healthy 2,321g (5.1 pounds), Merrimack was named for the Merrimack River, in the tidal marshes at whose mouth she was … 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

Ice Owls

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If there’s been a theme that was missing so far this winter — one that had been nearly constant in previous years — it’s been ice. Snowy owls love ice. For example, researchers with Laval University in Quebec (including our SNOWstorm colleague Jean-Fran├žois Therrien from Hawk Mountain in Pennsylvania) have documented how some adult snowies leave the breeding grounds in … 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