Snowy Owl Telemetry Research Project
Owls and Airports
Snowy Owl at Logan Airport. Photo copyright Norman Smith.
As snowy owls migrate north and south, they look for stopping places that resemble their home, which means a place that's like the Arctic tundra.
The land around Logan Airport has a lot in common with the tundra. It's low and relatively flat, with short scruffy plants and grasses, and there are numerous puddles and low areas. There is also an aboundance of food - voles, Norway rats and birds.
The snowy owl in this photo has spotted a vole, which you can see in the lower left corner. The owl stares intently at it, preparing to drop down, talons extended, and capture it.
Logan airport has the largest known concentration of snowy owls in the Northeast. From November 2008 to May 2009, a total of 41 Snowy Owls were banded in Massachusetts; 33 of those were relocated from Logan Airport.
Snowy owls usually show up at the airport in early November — the earliest date recorded is October 22nd. They leave in early April; the latest date is July 7th.
Snowy owls do have one benefit for the airport. They scare away other birds that congregate in the area and pose a threat to airplanes. Unfortunately, the owls themselves are large enough to endanger aircraft, so Norm will continue to capture and relocate migrating owls that stop by Logan to protect both the jets and owls.