Tracking and Migration Maps

Snowy owl in flight by Norman Smith

Since 1997, Mass Audubon's Norman Smith has attached tiny transmitters to the healthiest owls he relocates from Boston Logan International Airport. These transmitters send data such as location, temperature, and altitude, enabling researchers to learn more about:

  • Snowy owl migration routes
  • The rate at which they travel
  • If and where they stop along the way
  • Where they spend the breeding season
  • Where they spend the winter

The transmitter batteries last 1-3 years, and the transmitter harnesses fall off once the batteries have worn out. Researchers have worked hard to determine the best size, weight, positioning, and attachment of the transmitters so that they don’t impact the behavior and health of the birds.

Snowy Owl Project Tracking Maps

Each of these maps show the movement of one or more snowy owls tracked between 2001 and 2015.

Owl 134376 (March 9, 2014-April 11, 2015)

The most recent location estimates placed owl 134376 in northern Quebec. On 2 April, 2014, the PTT switched to the more frequent once every 3 day transmission cycle, just in time to track his movements north. View migration map >

Owl 99906 (March 4, 2012-January 15, 2013)

Owl 99906, a juvenile female, was equipped with a transmitter and released at Parker River Wildlife Refuge on March 4. She moved south near Boston's Logan Airport and was spotted there on Monday, 12 March. From March 12 - April 26, the owl is moving north relatively quickly compared with some of the more recent past owls and as of 26 April she was east of James Bay in Quebec Province. She continues to move north and by May 25 was approaching northern Quebec's Ungava peninsula region. PTT temperature and activity sensor values are within normal parameters. View migration map >

Owl 99907 (January 29-July 26, 2011)

Owl 99907 was equipped with a transmitter and released on Duxbury Beach on January 29. It stayed near Boston's Logan Airport all through February, then flew north to the St. Lawrence River, where it stayed for about two months. This is an area where other owls have also been recorded spending time on their way north to their breeding grounds. Between May 10 and May 13, it flew over 400 miles northwest, to the Opinaca Reservoir east of James Bay in Quebec Province. It has stayed in this area all summer. View migration map >

Owl 19192 (February 17, 2009-March 8, 2010)

February 17, 2009-March 8, 2010: Owl 19192's location estimates indicate that overall she is still in the general vicinity of where she has been since about January, 10 2010—in the southern area of Hudson Bay. View migration map > | View detailed winter map >

February 17-November 24, 2009: Owl 19192 ended up on the very western tip of Baffin Island at the end of June, and stayed in that area until September 8, when she moved east about 160 km from her summer location. She is now moving south near the eastern edge of Hudson Bay. View migration map > | View detailed summer map >

Owl 93346 (March 21-September 25, 2009)

This owl flew several hundred miles north of Québec City, but by mid-July, the transmitter was no longer showing movement. View migration map >

Owls 5721 & 3254 (February 5-August 13, 2006)

This map tracks two owls. One of these owls' tracks ended on May 27 near the Robert-Bourassa Reservoir in Québec Province; the other flew to the very northernmost point of Québec Province and spent the summer. View migration map >

Owls 11978, 11979, & 11986  (January 18, 2002-August 2, 2003)

This map tracks three owls. One spends the summer flying around northern Québec Province, then winters along the St. Lawrence; one stops moving on June 22, 2002 after flying to Baffin Island. The third showed no movement after May 25, 2002, when it was about halfway between Québec City and the Hudson Strait. View migration map >

Owls 3252, 3253, 3254, & 11978 (March 25, 2001-December 4, 2002)

This map tracks five owls, who migrate between Massachusetts, the St. Lawrence, Québec, Newfoundland, and Baffin Island. Two stop transmitting over the summer of 2001. View the migration map >

SNOWstorm Owl Tracking Maps

Starting in the winter of 2013, Mass Audubon teamed up with Project SNOWstorm in an effort to gain even more insight into the migration and travel patterns of snowy owls. Project SNOWstorm has provided Norman Smith, sanctuary director at the Blue Hills Trailside Museum, solar-paneled transmitters to attach to select owls.

This high-tech gadget records locations in three dimensions (latitude, longitude and altitude) at programmable intervals as short as every 30 seconds, providing unmatched detail on the movements of these birds, 24 hours a day. Learn more about the device >

The following maps show the movements of the select Project SNOWstorm owls that Smith released after rescuing from Logan Airport.




Sadly, Wampum was found dead at Logan Airport on April 7, 2016. Learn More >