March Madness: Snowy Owl Relocation Program Hits Triple Digits Earlier This Month As 100th Raptor, “Century,” Is Released

Release Date:
March 24, 2014

LINCOLN, MA—When Mass Audubon’s Norman Smith released a snowy owl earlier this month, it was literally one for the record books.

The large, white raptor, named “Century” for its milestone status, was the 100th of its species trapped at Logan International Airport in Boston since late last fall, when the 2013-2014 snowy owl irruption began. The previous greatest number captured was only about half that total; in fact, during the 2012-13 season, a mere eight “snowies” were trapped at Logan, each later released on South Shore or North Shore beaches.

“Century” was released Saturday, March 15, at the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge on Plum Island in Newburyport, before a rapt crowd of birders and other well-wishers. Also on hand were officials from the Refuge and from Massport, which oversees Logan.

Although the release of “Century” represented a landmark moment, Smith noted that 36 additional owls had been captured in other Massachusetts locations this season—a year when thousands have descended from their Arctic breeding grounds to as far south as Florida and the Caribbean.

“To see a snowy owl, a rare visitor from the far north, is a captivating experience for people, one that will be remembered for a lifetime,” said Smith, who manages Mass Audubon’s Snowy Owl Project and is director of the conservation organization’s Blue Hills Trailside Museum in Milton.

Smith noted that those who would like to track “Century” along the coast and on its journey back to the Arctic can visit the website of Project SNOWstorm, which monitors snowy owls and their movements.

“This winter has given birders and nonbirders alike one of the best opportunities ever to see one or more of these magnificent creatures,” he added. “And the season is not over yet. Who knows what the final number will be!”

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Mass Audubon is the largest nature-based conservation organization in New England. Founded in 1896 by two women who fought for the protection of birds, Mass Audubon carries on their legacy by focusing on the greatest challenges facing the environment today: the loss of biodiversity, inequitable access to nature, and climate change. With the help of our 140,000 members and supporters, we protect wildlife, conserve and restore resilient land, advocate for impactful environmental policies, offer nationally recognized education programs for adults and children, and provide endless opportunities to experience the outdoors at our wildlife sanctuaries. Explore, find inspiration, and take action at www.massaudubon.org.