Snowy Owl Season in Massachusetts

    Here is a summary of the Snowy Owl season compiled by Norm Smith of Massachusetts Audubon.
    The snowy owl season for this year from November 2011 through May
    2012 was a great one. We banded a total of 52 snowy owls and
    recaptured an owl we had banded two years ago. Of the owls banded 42
    were captured at Logan Airport, 29 were released at Duxbury Beach and
    13 released at Plum Island. In addition to the owls banded at Logan
    Airport 4 owls were banded at Duxbury Beach and 6 were banded at Plum
    Island.

    All the 53 owls captured were in great condition, good body weight
    and excellent feather condition. 46 of the owls were hatch year birds
    (Owls that were born last summer) and 7 were after hatch year birds
    (owls more than 1 year old). There were five snowy owls found dead
    this season in Massachusetts, 1 hit by a propeller of a Cape Air
    plane at Logan, 1 killed by a jet blast at Logan, 1 found dead on
    Deer Island that died from rodenticide poison, 1 found dead at Plum
    Island that had a broken wing and 1 found dead at Plum Island that
    had a pellet stuck in its throat from the teeth on the lower jaw of a
    rat that had perforated the esophagus and the owl could not
    regurgitate the pellet and died.

    The last 2 owls that were captured at Logan were released at Plum
    Island on May 11th and May 29th.

    From communication with researchers on Baffin Island over the years
    when they have a good lemming year like last summer the owls breed
    producing lots of young and that is when we see good owl numbers in
    Massachusetts. If in fact these owls were leaving the arctic because
    there was no food in the arctic they would probably never make it
    here and if they did would not arrive here in good condition.

    Over the past 31 years that we have been doing research on snowy owls
    the best winter to date was the winter of 1986-87 when we banded 43
    snowy owls at Logan Airport. This past winter was the second best
    with 42 banded at Logan.

    Thanks to the Nuttall Ornithological Club we were able to put a
    satellite transmitter on one of the owls to track its movements.
    Check out our web site to track this owl.

    http://www.massaudubon.org/Birds_and_Birding/snowyowl/index.php

    Norman Smith
    Sanctuary Director
    Mass Audubon Blue Hills Sanctuary
    1904 Canton Ave.
    Milton, MA 02186
    617 333-0690 ext 222
    nsmith AT massaudubon.org

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