By: Scott Weidensaul & David Brinker
For those interested in the Snowy Owl irruption in the Northeast and Great Lakes region, we're mobilizing a major research effort involving telemetry, banding and other approaches, which we've dubbed Project SNOWstorm (the North American banding code for the species, of course, is SNOW).
This was initially a brainchild of Dave Brinker with Maryland Dept, of Natural Resources and I; Dave is the founder of Project Owlnet, which I help co-direct, and which now has more than 125 collaborating saw-whet owl banding sites in North America. Norman Smith, who has been studying snowy owls in Boston for more than 30 years, is also a main collaborator, along with Jean-François Therrien at Hawk Mountain, who has been studying snowies in the Canadian Arctic.
Since then, we've tagged a second snowy owl in Wisconsin (with collaborator Gene Jacobs), and the Assateague bird has moved almost 150 miles, around the rim of Delaware Bay and halfway up the New Jersey coast. We now have funding for a dozen GPS transmitters, and will be launching an Indiegogo crowd-funding campaign later this week.
--SIGHTINGS/PHOTO DATABASE: With some funding from the PA Game Commission, we are setting up an online system for people to report sighting data (date, location, etc.) and photos or videos of snowy owls in the irruption zone. We are asking especially for clear photos showing an open wing, and/or the dorsal surface of the tail, which would allow some birds to be aged and sexed. This will feed into eBird, so we're not duplicating their efforts.
Obviously, if you can participate in some fashion and would like to sign on, please let me know.
Schuylkill Haven, PA USA