Owls are in the spotlight during a program on Project SNOWStorm and Project OwlNet on Thursday, January 31 at 7 p.m. in the visitors center at Renfrew Park. The program is sponsored by Renfrew Institute, and admission is free.
As reports of increasing numbers of snowy owl sightings emerged across Pennsylvania and other northern states in the winter of 2013–14, a team of researchers gathered to learn more about these owls, calling their effort Project SNOWstorm.
Steve Huy is a co-founder of Project SNOWstorm, and co-director of Project Owlnet, a long term study of saw-whet owls based at the Lambs Knoll station in Maryland’s Catoctin Mountains.
Project SNOWstorm uses innovative science to track and understand snowy owls, and to engage people in their conservation through outreach and education.
Huy began banding snowy owls for future identification several years ago. Some of the owls are fitted with solar-powered transmitters that provide insight into their activities for several years, including data on latitude, longitude and altitude.
Researchers have discovered that some owls are “home-bodies,” rarely traveling more than a quarter-mile. Other owls travel hundreds of miles in just a few weeks, moving from islands along the Atlantic coast to Pennsylvania farm country, and then back to the coast.
The owls are given nicknames, some of which reflect where they were originally tagged. Stella, Pettibone, Baltimore, Pickford, and Island Beach are just a few of the owls whose movements are tracked by Project SNOWStorm.
Many of the owls are captured, tagged and released in the Mid-Atlantic region, but the project reaches as far north as Canada and as far west as North Dakota.
More information including an interactive tracking map can be found at www.projectsnowstorm.org.
Huy will also discuss Project Owlnet, which facilitates communication, cooperation and innovation among a network of owl-migration researchers in North America and abroad.
Parking is available behind the visitors center. For more information, contact the institute at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 717-762-0373.
This program is underwritten in part by Marge Kiersz, Lucinda D. Potter, CPA, and Smith, Elliott, Kearns & Company, with additional support from Renfrew Institute’s Today’s Horizon Fund contributors: The Nora Roberts Foundation; The John R. Hershey Jr. and Anna L. Hershey Family Foundation; APX Enclosures, Inc.; and the Carolyn Terry Eddy Family: Carolyn, with daughters Connie Fleagle & Kim Larkin. Facility support is provided courtesy of Renfrew Museum and Park.