Archive for January, 2018

It looks like we are in the midst of another significant Snowy Owl irruption. The first one occurred back during the 2013/2014 winter. This year an incredible number of Snowy Owls have been reported in the northern and eastern states. An irruption usually occurs after a very successful breeding year for the Snowy Owls in the Arctic. The following winter most adults will remain, but the increased number of juveniles are pushed south to find food elsewhere. The terrain along the dunes of the Jersey Shore are similar to the tundra and provide an abundance of food such as rabbits, mice, and shore birds.

These images were taken over the last two months using a 500mm lens. All photos were cropped and taken at a safe distance from the owls. Snowy Owls are definitely my favorite birds to photograph even though most times it’s extremely cold and windy. They are incredible animals. Hopefully they will remain for a few more months before their epic journey back to the Arctic.

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While looking for Snowy Owls along the Jersey Shore, I stumbled upon Project Snowstorm in the process of a capture and release of a NJ Snowy. After the capture, they fitted the owl with a solar GPS transmitter to track and study it’s behavior. This Snowy, named “Island Beach” observed the bait pigeon from a distance for about 45 minutes. Finally it launched and came in for the bait. They use a soft net that looks similar to a hockey goal and a bait pigeon fitted with a leather jacket for protection against the talons. Once it was captured they weighed the owl to make sure it was strong enough for a transmitter. It was a healthy juvenile male. ¬†“Island Beach” seemed quite calm through the entire process, but I’m sure he wasn’t thrilled. Shortly after, it was released near the dunes. A second Snowy, “Lenape” was also captured later that same day. You can follow their journey on the Project Snowstorm website by clicking on the “Owls” dropdown tab. Keep an eye out for my next post with several Snowy Owl photos from this year’s irruption.

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Just prior to his release.

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The Approach

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Lightweight Transmitter

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