Otter is an adult male tagged Jan. 18, 2019, in Jefferson County, NY, not far from Fort Drum, by Tom McDonald. He was the first snowy owl — and one of the first birds anywhere in the world — fitted with a hybrid GSM (cellular) and Argos (satellite) transmitter, which allows us to monitor his movements year-round. His transmitter was paid for by generous donors to Project SNOWstorm.

In May and June 2019 Otter migrated north to Baffin Island in the Canadian Arctic, summering on uninhabited Rowley Island in the Foxe Basin. In October and November he moved south along the western margins of Hudson and James Bay, and checked in via GSM cell network with his full data load Dec. 1, 2019, just north of Montreal, and wintered in the nearby St. Lawrence valley.

Otter migrated north in April 2020, summering on the Foxe Peninsula of southern Baffin Island. The winter of 2020-21 he remained in the subarctic, wintering on the Torngat Peninsula in northern Labrador, then migrated across Hudson Bay and appeared to have nested on the Melville Peninsula in summer 2021. On Dec. 30, 2021, he checked in from western Québec about halfway between James Bay and Georgian Bay, and spent the winter of 2021-22 at the eastern end of Lake Abitibi, QC.

After migrating north in April 2022, Otter spent the subsequent summer wandering around the central Canadian Arctic near King William Island. He never settled in any one place long enough to suggest he might have been tending a nest, which was in line with the generally poor reports of snowy owl breeding activity that summer. After remaining in the north late into autumn, including a month along the south shore of Hudson Bay, he made a rapid migration beginning Dec. 5, 2022, and returned to cell range south of Ottawa, ON, Dec. 15, 2022. He wintered northeast of Ottawa, migrating north in April 2023. He spent the summer of 2023 on southwestern Baffin Island, where he appears not to have nested. He never came south in the winter of 2023-24, but in March 2024 his satellite duty cycle began its annual seven-month active period, at which time he was on lower James Bay near Fort Albany. (His map, shown here, includes only GSM-transmitted data, so none of his satellite locations after April 2023 are included.)

Latest Updates