Snowy Owl Telemetry Research Project
Norman Smith, director of Mass Audubon's Blue Hills Trailside Museum,
has always been fascinated by owls. For years he's been studying Snowy Owls, the largest owl in North America - in fact, he's considered an authority on them. Find out more about Snowy Owls.
As part of his research, he has worked with Logan Airport since 1981,
capturing Snowy Owls that pose a danger to air traffic, banding them and releasing them further along their migration
path. Unfortunately, Snowy Owls love airports.
To date, Norm has banded 360 Snowy Owls at the airport, and information on where the banded owls are next found has added to our knowledge of
their breeding area and migration patterns.
In 1997, Norm began working on a project with the US Geological Survey (USGS), Boise State University (BSU), and The Owl Institute, attaching special, tiny transmitters to some of the owls he captured.
These transmitters periodically send out data such as location, temperature, and altitude. The signal is picked up by a satellite and retransmitted to BSU in Boise, Idaho, who send it to the partner organizations.
This gives the researchers much more precise information on:
- the migration routes taken by the owls
- the speed and altitude at which they travel
- if and where they stop along the way
- the location they stay in for the breeding season
The transmitter batteries last 3 years, so if the owl remains alive, they can track its path through several migrations. See maps of the owls' routes.