Owls are in the spotlight during a program on Project SNOWStorm and Project OwlNet on Tuesday, February 12 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.
An owl walk along the hiking trails of Renfrew Park in Waynesboro is scheduled for Thursday, February 8, at 6:00 p.m. This winter excursion, led by Renfrew Institute staff member and naturalist, Lori Schlosser, is for participants aged 15 and up.
The activity is free (donations accepted), but registration is required and limited to 60. Spaces are filling for this popular event, so anyone wishing to join the walk should register as soon as possible. For more information or to register, call the institute at 717-762-0373 or email to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Just before the walk, Schlosser will present a brief introduction to owls and a preview of various owl calls at Renfrew’s visitors center. Schlosser will then lead the group along trails in the park. During several stops, the group will pause and call various owls, including the great horned owl, the barred owl and the screech owl.
Several owls have recently been spotted in the park, but patience is required when trying to call them. “If the calls are too loud, you can scare them off,” Schlosser said. Participants must stand quietly for short periods of time to watch for owl flight and listen for owl reply calls.
Participants should dress appropriately for the weather, as the walk may last up to an hour. Flashlights are permitted; however, participants will be asked to turn them off during the walk to allow their eyes to adjust to the darkness.
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; Alma W. Oyer; APX Enclosures, Inc.; The Carolyn Terry Eddy Family: Carolyn, with daughters Connie Fleagle & Kim Larkin; and The John R. Hershey Jr. and Anna L. Hershey Family Foundation. Facility support is provided courtesy of Renfrew Museum and Park.
For more information, visit www.renfrewinstitute.org. Parking is available near the visitor center, or in Renfrew’s lower lot. |