Tag Archives: Snowy Owl

GloucesterCast 260 With Pat, Jimmy Dalpiaz and Joey Ciaramitaro Taped 1/18/18

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Topics Include:

Free Tickets To Cape Ann Community Cinema – Share this post on Facebook for a chance to win two free tickets to Cape Ann Community Cinema, The Cinema Listings are always stickied in the GMG Calendar at the top of the blog or you can click here to go directly to the website

Montreal Recap Bruins Game- StubHub and SeatGeek strategy for tickets (tickets for Sunday’s AFC Championship are available still here!)

Cornbag/Ricebag To Relieve Neck Tension- Link

Canada Goose Jacket Alternative

Wolf Hollow

Shout Out To Kim’s Year In Review

Feeling Sorry For People That Don’t Watch Sports

Paprika Grill Location is For Rent $1100/mo- Info here

Crows Divebombing The Snowy Owl

Cape Ann Community Cinemas Review

Seats still available for The Patriots AFC Championship Game! check out the stadium map-

 

CAPE ANN WILDLIFE: A YEAR IN PICTURES 2017

CAPE ANN WILDLIFE: A YEAR IN PICTURES 2017

By Kim Smith

Cape Ann provides welcome habitat for a menagerie of creatures beautiful, from the tiniest winged wonder to our region’s top predator, the Eastern Coyote. Last year I posted a Cape Ann Wildlife Year in Pictures 2016 and I hope you will find the wildlife stories of 2017 equally as beautiful. Click on the image to find the name of each species.

WINTER

The only partially frozen ponds at the start of winter allowed for dabblers and divers such as Mallards, Mergansers, and Buffleheads to forage at the freshwater. Mr. Swan had his usual entourage of quwackers and daily heads to the other side of the pond to get away for his morning stretches. Sightings of Red-tailed Hawks and other raptors abounded. Although photographed in Newburyport, the owl photos are included because these species are found readily on Cape Ann. An Eastern Screech Owl (red-morph) was seen daily perched above a playground and Barred Owl sightings too were reported throughout the winter. Raptors live on Cape Ann all year round but are much easier to see in winter when the trees are bare of foliage.

The beautiful aqua green eyes of the juvenile Double-crested Cormorants were seen wintering at both Niles Pond and Rockport Harbor. And during a warm February day on a snowless marsh a turkey bromance shindig commenced.

SPRING

In early spring, a male and female American Wigeon arrived on the scene making local ponds their home for several weeks. In the right light the male’s electric green feathers at the top of his head shine brightly and both the male and female have baby blue bills.

Meadow and marsh, dune and treetop were graced with the heralding harbingers of spring with photos of a Red-winged Blackbird, a pair of Cedar Waxwings, Northern Mockingbird, Brown Thrasher, Eastern Towhee, Eastern Kingbird, Tree Swallow, and Grackle included here.

The Great Swan Escape story made headlines in Boston as Mr. Swan eluded captors for hours. He had re-injured his foot and someone took it upon themselves to call the animal rescuers, which would have surely meant death for our beloved 27-year old swan if he had been wrangled into captivity.

M is clearly for Migration through Massachusetts and the month-long arrivals and departures did not abate. Short-billed Dowitchers, winsome Willets, Yellow Legs, Brandt Geese, and Ruddy Turnstones are just some of the migrating birds spied on Cape Ann beaches and marshes. The best news in May was the return of the Piping Plovers. Of the five or six that camped at Good Harbor Beach to investigate potential nesting sites, one pair bonded and built their nest mere yards from the nesting pair of last year. Could it be the same pair? The nesting Piping Plover story took up much of the spring and by early summer four little Piping Plover chicks hatched over Fiesta weekend. Hundreds of photos and hours of film footage are in the process of being organized with a children’s book and documentary in progress.

Piping Plover Courtship Dance

Piping Plover Nest

SUMMER

OctoPop

The survival of one Piping Plover chick was made possible by a wholesale community effort, with volunteers covering all hours of daylight, along with Mayor Sefatia and her team, Ken Whittaker from the conservation office, Chief McCarthy, and animal control officer Diane Corliss all lending a hand.

Sadly, several Northern Gannets came ashore to die on our Cape Ann beaches, struck by the same mysterious and deadly disease that is afflicting Northern Gannets in other coastal regions. During the summer season they are typically at their North American breeding grounds, which are six well-established colonies, three in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, Quebec, and three in the North Atlantic, off the coast of Newfoundland.

An orphaned swan was introduced to Niles Pond, much to the dismay of Mr. Swan. Eastern Point residents Skip and Lyn kept watch over the two while they reluctantly became acquainted.

By mid-July many of us were seeing Monarchs in much greater numbers than recent years. Nearly every region within the continental United States experienced a fantastic Painted Lady irruption and butterflies of every stripe and polka dot were seen flitting about our meadows, fields, and gardens.

The tadpoles and froglets of American Bullfrogs and Green Frogs made for good eating for several families of resident otters, who are making their homes in abandoned beaver lodges. Little Blue Herons too, find plentiful frogs at our local ponds.

Tree Swallows Massing

In early August we see the Tree Swallows begin to mass for their return migration. They find an abundance of fruits and insects in the dunes, headlands, and beaches. The Cedar Waxwings and Ruddy Trunstones were observed back again foraging on their southward journey, along with myriad species of songbirds, shorebirds, divers, and dabblers.

FALL

The Late Great Monarch Migration continued into fall as we were treated to a wonderfully warm autumn. Waves and waves of Monarchs came ashore and more butterflies arrived on the scene including new batches of Painted Ladies, Clouded Sulphurs and Common Buckeyes (nothing common about these beauties!).

A pair of Northern Pintails called Cape Ann ponds and coves home for nearly a month while we seem to be seeing more and more raptors such as Red-tailed Hawks, Osprey, Bald Eagles, and Peregrine Falcons. Juvenile herons of every species that breeds on Cape Ann lingered long into the fall—Black-crowned Night Herons, Yellow-crowned Herons, Great Blue Herons, Snowy Egrets, Great Egrets, and Green Herons.

Just as Mr. Swan and the Young Swan appeared to be warming to each other, the Young Swan, who has yet to learn to fly, became trapped in the ice at Niles Pond. He was rescued by caretakers Lyn and Dan and is now spending the winter at a cozy sanctuary built by Lyn and friends.

 

Heart Wings Monarch Butterfly

Thank you to all our readers for your kind comments of appreciation throughout the year for the beautiful wild creatures with which we share this gorgeous peninsula called Cape Ann. If you’d like to read more about a particular animal, type the name of the animal in the search box and the original post should come up

With its expansive marshes and dunes, bodies of fresh, clear water, saltwater coves and inlets, and geographic location within the Atlantic Flyway, 2017 has been a banner year for Cape Ann’s wild and wonderful creatures. I can’t wait to see what awaits in 2018!

Snowy Owl “Hedwig” January 2018 Backshore Gloucester

HOW TO TELL THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN MALE AND FEMALE SNOWY OWLS

The winter of 2017-2018 has proven so far to be an irruptive year for Snowy Owls, as was predicted by scientists. In years when there is a lemming population boom, which is a staple of the Snowy’s diet, double, even triple, the amount of Snowy Owl hatchlings survive the summer breeding season. Arctic winter arrives and for whatever reason, either there is less food available or the first hatch year owls can’t hunt as well, a number of Snowies head south, both adults and juveniles, generally though, more juveniles than adults migrate.

Snowy Owls are white birds, with varying degrees of brown, black, and gray feather patterning. They are North America’s largest owl by weight. As with most bird of prey species, female Snowies are larger than the males, by about one pound. That is considerable, knowing that the average weight of a Snowy Owl is four pounds. A male may grow up to 25 inches, a female to 27 inches, and the wingspan of both is about equal. Because females are larger and more dominant, they usually don’t migrate as far south, staking out territory further north. Typically in our area we see first hatch year males, although currently there is thought to be an adult male at Salisbury Beach. The Snowy at Bass Rocks is presumably a female. When out in the field, the hardest to tell apart are the darkest males and the palest females.

In learning about Snowy Owls, I came across several very helpful photos of Snowy Owl specimens. And we have three examples, from Snowies found right here on the North Shore, from which to compare.

In the photo below, you are looking at eight Snowy Owl specimens from the Cornell University Museum of Vertebrates. One through five on the left are males; six, seven, and eight are females. Notice how similar, yet different, are five and six (male #5, female #6).

  1. Snowy Owl males are generally whiter.
  2. Snowy Owl females tend to be larger.
  3. Snowy Owl male’s tails have up to three bars, the female’s have from three to six.
  4. Snowy Owl females have wider and darker marks and bars on the back, nape, and tail.
  5. Snowy Owl males have a larger white bib.

Closeup of the intermediary male (five) and female (six).

Underside of the Owls, in the same order.

Comparing the above photos I think we can logically conclude that the Snowy Owl that was at Captain Joe and Sons in 2015 was a young male, with light markings and a large white bib.

Young Male Snowy Owl

The Snowy Owl currently at Bass Rocks, I think it is safe to say, is a female, and most likely a juvenile. She doesn’t have much bib showing and her overall markings are wide and dark.

Female Snowy Owl

We have our own example of an intermediate–is the Snowy Owl recently photographed at Cranes Beach a juvenile male or a female?

Male or female?

WE LOVE YOU TOO SNOWY OWL!

For the past several days there has been a remarkably tolerant Snowy Owl feeding and perching on the rocks at Atlantic Road. Perhaps she (or he) is the same Snowy that has been noticed on the backshore over the course of the past month. I write tolerant because this Snowy was perched about fifteen feet from the sidewalk and neither traffic nor birdwatchers seemed to faze her much. As word has gotten out, her fan club has grown, so much so that there was a bit of a traffic jam today. Every several hours I stopped by to check on her whereabouts. At 2:00 today, she had only moved about a foot from where she was at daybreak. By sundown, she had flown up onto the rooftops of an Atlantic Road resident.


Many thanks to Kate for all her text alerts letting me know when the Snowy was on the backshore!

Early morning and the Snowies face and talons were bloodstained, which is a very positive sign that she is feeding well. Snowy Owls wintering over in our region eat rabbits, rodents (lots of rats), songbirds, and ducks. Being good stewards of the Snowies means not applying rat poison around your home or business. There are several methods equally as efficient in killing rats as rat poison. When a bird of prey such as a Peregrine Falcon, Snowy Owl, Red-tailed Hawk, or Bald Eagle ingests a rat that has eaten rat poison, the raptor becomes sick and will usually die.

The Snowy spent the better part of the day mostly dozing, preening, cleaning her talons, and puffing her feathers for warmth. At one point she pushed her face into a snow patch but I couldn’t tell if it was to drink or to wash.

 

For a moment the Snowy sat bolt upright from a loud bang in the distance, but generally, she was a satiated and sleepy owl.

Snowy Owl Fan Club Traffic Jam

PEREGRINE FALCON DEVOURING A BIRD

On the lookout for Snowy Owls, I instead encountered this scene of a Peregrine Falcon eating a freshly killed bird. At one point I caught a quick glimpse of what I think was a webbed duck foot, but could possibly also have been a cormorant. Despite all the gore, the Falcon was exquisite to observe. Especially beautiful were the hues of its slate blue wings in the early morning light.

Peregrine Falcons eat mostly birds. Over 450 species of bird prey have been documented in North America alone. From the tinniest Ruby-throated Hummingbird to the enormous Sand Hill Crane, few birds are safe from the talons of the Peregrine Falcon.

The Falcon methodically eviscerated its prey, all the while watching gulls, crows, me, and any other potential thief.

Robber crows stopped by to see what they could snatch and one brazen fellow made off with a gizzard dangling from its mouth.

A gull popped its head up from a lower rock outcropping to see what he could steal and after taking a quick look at the Peregrine Powerhouse, thought better of attempting robbery.

 

Nature’s Finest Flyer

Did you know that the Peregrine Falcon is the world’s fastest bird? A bird’s airspeed velocity is variable. During a hunting dive the Peregrine Falcon will average about 200 miles per hour; 242 miles per hour is the maximum speed recorded. The Golden Eagle is the second fastest bird, with an average diving speed of 150 miles per hour and a maximum speed of 200 mph.

Saved from the Brink of Extinction

Excerpted from The Nature Conservancy

Peregrines are fast, aggressive creatures and are on top of their food chain. While young Peregrines are preyed upon by Golden Eagle and Great Horned Owls there are few threats towards the adults other than man.

By the mid 1960’s, there were NO Peregrines in the eastern United States and the decline spread westwards so that by the mid-70’s western populations had declined by up to 90 percent. It was estimated that 3,875 nesting pairs were found in North America prior to the 40’s; by 1975, only 324 pair existed in the US. Loss of habitat, shootings, egg collecting and other human disturbances had weakened North American populations for decades but drastic declines didn’t occur until after the widespread use of a popular insecticide – DDT. Like the canary in the coalmine, the Peregrine Falcon provided humans a warning as how chemical pollution can disrupt the environment and the life around it.

The use of dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane, or DDT, began during World War II as an extremely effective pesticide. Its use continued after the war as a way to control agricultural pests and in killing malaria-carrying mosquitoes. Unfortunately it would be years later before it was understood that DDT would have adverse effects on a variety of ecologically important insects, birds, and the environment. Bats, Fireflies and Peregrine Falcons were just a few species that were greatly affected. Editor’s note: In the United States, DDT was manufactured by some 15 companies, including Monsanto, Ciba, Montrose Chemical Company, Pennwalt, and Velsicol Chemical Corporation.

For the Peregrine Falcon, DDT poisoning was due to its being on top of the food chain. After consuming other birds that fed on seeds, insects and fish contaminated with DDT, the poison eventually accumulated in its system. High concentrations of a DDT metabolite called DDE prevented normal calcium production causing thin, frail eggshells that would break under the weight of the parent during incubation. Because of the toxic contaminant, many eggs did not hatch and the populations precipitously dropped until a mere 12% of normal peregrine falcon populations remained in the United States.

In 1970, the American Peregrine Falcon was listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Conservation Act of 1969 (and then again in 1973 when the Endangered Species Act passed). Encouraged by the EPA’s banning of DDT in 1972, recovery projects began to take shape. Beginning in 1974, The Peregrine Fund, along with various national and state agencies in both the United States and Canada, embarked on a reintroduction program for the peregrine falcon.

Thanks to the scientists and researchers at Cornell University, adult birds were successfully bred in captivity. After the eggs hatched, they were raised in the labs until three weeks old. They were then placed in hack sites (artificial nesting sites) where they were fed and cared for by unseen benefactors until flight and hunting skills were developed enough for them to become independent. More than 6,000 American Peregrine Falcons have been released in North America since 1974 due to the cooperative efforts among federal and state Fish & Wildlife Services, The Peregrine Fund, Midwestern Peregrine Falcon Restoration Project and the Santa Cruz Predatory Bird Research Group.

The success of these recovery programs allowed the declassification of the Peregrine Falcon as a federally endangered species in 1999. Although the bird of prey remains federally protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and will be monitored until 2015, the survival of the Peregrine Falcon marked the most dramatic success of the Endangered Species Act.

BEAUTY ABOUNDS WITH SNOWY OWLS, HORNED LARK, SNOW BUNTINGS, YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLERS, DUNLINS AND MORE!

With early predictions of a Snowy Owl irruption heading our way and several sightings in Gloucester, I have been periodically popping over to Cranes Beach in Ipswich. Thanks to Bill Foley, Cranes Chief of Police (and Kate’s awesome Dad!), who showed me around and provided some great tips on locating the Snowies, I was able to find one second time out. The first day was a bust because a dog owner had allowed his dog off leash. I watched the dog chase the Snowy, who then headed far and away over the dunes. This made me so very sad for myriad reasons, but especially so at Cranes Beach because there is a fabulously huge area that dogs are allowed off leash. Anyhow, seeing the Snowy that first day, and knowing he was there, was all I needed to keep trying.

Dunlins, Sanderlings, Snow Buntings, and Horned Lark

That day, a flock of Dunlins was resting in the sand, with one lone Sanderling, and there was a small flock of Snow Buntings in the parking lot. Feeding amongst the flock was, what I believe to be, a female Horned Lark!Second day out was wonderfully rewarding. Approaching the stairs to descend to the beach, I inadvertently startled a Snowy and he flew from the area, way, way down the beach, perching on one of the poles that mark the access to the Green Trail. Off I trudged in 15 degree weather, keeping my eyes peeled on where he was resting. He stayed for quite some time while I stood back at a great distance, not wanting to disrupt his hunting. Suddenly, and with what I thought, great bravery, he flew quite close and past me, heading over to the sandy beach. I wasn’t anticipating his flight and didn’t get much of a photo, but it was exquisite to see.The temperature had climbed to twenty, but I was getting worried about exposed photo fingers and frostbite. After taking a few more photos and some footage of the Snowy in the sand, I very reluctantly headed home.

Today I didn’t see the Snowy Owl, but did find a scattering of Snowy feathers in the sand, in the same area where one had been hunting the previous week. I showed the ranger at the gate, Emily White, the feathers and she confirmed they were from a Snowy. She said that hawks and falcons will attack Snowies. I didn’t see any bones or body parts, so hopefully it wasn’t a fight to the death. Emily was super helpful and shared lots of useful information. This year’s Audubon Christmas Bird Count at Cranes was relatively uneventful, with fewer numbers counted than usual. Many more beautiful birds will be arriving to our shores in the coming weeks, foraging in the dunes and shrubby habitat, and hopefully, there will be lots more Snowy Owl sightings!Emily White, Cranes Ranger

Song Sparrow eating ripe beach grass seed heads.

Yellow-rumped Warbler winter plumage.

More scenes from the Green Trail

Scofflaw dog owner

A BEAUTIFUL SNOWY OWL COMES TO GLOUCESTER!

Photos contributed by Denise Merlino

I think this is the first reported Snowy Owl to arrive to Gloucester in what looks to be quite possibly a fabulous year for Snowy Owls.

READERS, please continue to let us know of your Snowy Owl sightings. Thank you!

Good Morning Gloucester FOBs (Friends of the Blog) Denise Merlino and John Felock write,

Hi Joey

I remember when the Snowy Owl visited you, well she is back! We named her Samantha the Snowy Owl. She was seen in our back yard and she is beautiful. Everyone keep an eye out for her.

Best

Denise Merlino and John Felock

READ MORE ABOUT THE 2017 SNOWY OWL IRRUPTION HERE:

A VERITABLE BLIZZARD OF SNOWY OWLS COULD BE COMING OUR WAY!

A VERITABLE BLIZZARD OF SNOWY OWLS COULD BE COMING OUR WAY!

Snowy Owl at Captain Joe and Sons, East Main Street, Gloucester

Audubon “Birds in the News”
By Leslie Nemo
November 17, 2017

Will this winter bring an irruption of the Arctic raptors to the continental U.S.? A few clues from up north have Project SNOWstorm predicting yes.

Four years ago, thousands of Snowy Owls stormed the northern United States, taking up posts in surroundings drastically different from the flat Arctic tundra over which they typically preside. Some whiled away the hours peering at dog walkers from suburban fences; one learned to hunt around a Minnesota brewery with mouse problems. In a typical winter, around 10 Snowies visit Pennsylvania, but in 2013 the state was graced by 400. They were part of the largest Snowy Owl irruption, or influx of a species into a place they don’t usually live, the U.S. has seen since the 1920s.

If you missed it, you might be in luck. Project SNOWstorm, a volunteer-fueled Snowy Owl-tracking organization founded after that irruption, predicts another wave of Arctic raptors will hit North America this winter, according to their most recent blog post.

Scott Weidensaul, one of the directors of Project SNOWstorm, says the clues point to a big irruption, but the group also fully admits there’s no way to definitively know how big it could be or if it will even happen at all. “There’s a little bit of voodoo and black magic in all of this,” Weidensaul says. Though Snowy Owl migration patterns are mostly mysterious, there have been some tell-tale signs that the birds are on their way.

For one, some Snowy Owls already seem to be retracing the last irruption’s process. Data are sketchy and variable, but it appears that big southward movements occur about once every four years. That’s because lemmings, their preferred prey, go through regional population explosions at about the same interval. In 2013, those little Arctic rodents had a banner year on the Ungava Peninsula in Northern Quebec, fueling a highly successful breeding season for the owls that flocked to that area. Sure enough, this past breeding season, Canadian wildlife biologists studying caribou reported an unusually high number of owls flapping around the same area, reports others have confirmed.

READ MORE HERE

Snowy Owl and East Gloucester Kids at Bass Rocks

CAPE ANN WILDLIFE: A YEAR IN PICTURES

snowy-owl-gloucester-massachusetts-c2a9kim-smith-2015My husband Tom suggested that I write a year-end post about the wildlife that I had photographed around Cape Ann. Super idea I thought, that will be fun and easy. Many hours later (not realizing how daunting) the following is a collection of some favorite images from this past year, beginning with the male Snowy Owl photographed at Captain Joe’s last winter, to December’s Red-tailed Hawk huntress.

red-tailed-hawk-gloucester-massachusetts-copyright-kim-smith

Living along the great Atlantic Flyway, we have been graced with a bevy of birds. Perhaps the most exciting arrival of all occurred when early summer brought several pairs of nesting Piping Plovers to Gloucester’s most beloved (and most highly trafficked) of beaches, Good Harbor Beach. Their story is being documented on film.

piping-plovers-chicks-nestlings-babies-kim-smith

Work on Mr. Swan’s film will also resume this January—the winters are simply not long enough for all I have planned!

swan-outstretched-wings-niles-pond-coyright-kim-smith

While photographing and filming Red-winged Blackbirds this past spring, there was a face-to-face encounter with a hungry coyote, as well as several River Otter sightings.

female-red-winged-blackbird-copyright-kim-smitrhFemale Red-winged Blackbird

eastern-coyote-massachusetts-kim-smithThe summer’s drought brought Muskrats out from the reeds and into full view at a very dry Henry’s Pond, and a short film about a North American Beaver encounter at Langsford Pond. Numerous stories were heard from folks who have lived on Cape Ann far longer than I about the extraordinary number of egrets, both Snowy and Great, dwelling on our shores.three-muskrat-family-massachusetts-copyright-kim-smith

Three Muskrateersfemale-monarch-depositing-eggs-1-copyright-kim-smithnewly-emerged-monarch-butterfly-copyright-kim-smith-jpg

There were few Monarch sightings, but the ones seen thankfully deposited eggs in our garden. Thank you to my new friend Christine who shared her Cecropia Silkmoth eggs with me and thank you to the countless readers who have extended an invitation to come by and photograph an exciting creature in their yard.

cecropia-moth-caterpillar-copyright-kim-smithPristine beaches, bodies of fresh water, and great swathes of protected marsh and woodland make for ideal wildlife habitat, and Cape Ann has it all. With global climate change pushing species further away from the Equator, I imagine we’ll be seeing even more creatures along our shores. Butterfly and bee populations are overall in decline, not only because of climate change and the use of pesticides, but also because of loss of habitat. As Massachusetts has become less agrarian and more greatly forested, fields of wildflowers are becoming increasingly rare. And too fields often make the best house lots. Farmers and property owners developing an awareness of the insects’ life cycle and planting and maintaining fields and gardens accordingly will truly help the butterflies and bees.

female-mallard-nine-ducklings-kim-smithThank you to all our readers for your kind comments of appreciation throughout the year for the beautiful wild creatures with which we share this gorgeous peninsula called Cape Ann.

The images are not arranged in any particular order. If you would like to read more about a particular animal, type the name of the animal in the search box and the original post should come up.

I wonder what 2017 will bring?nine-piping-plovers-napping-gloucester-copyright-kim-smith

sandpipers-copyright-kim-smith

VERY COOL SNOWY OWL SHOT SOARING ABOVE TRAFFIC!

Thank you to Terry Weber and Eoin Vincent for alerting us to this fantastic Snowy Owl shot!!

snow-owl

CBS News:

Spectacular images of a snowy owl in flight have been captured by Transport Quebec’s traffic camera along Montreal’s Highway 40.

The images were captured on Jan. 3 by a traffic camera at Highway 40 and Sources Boulevard.

Transport Minister Robert Poëti tweeted about the owl early Thursday morning, and the province later released video footage.

See Video Here

 

Nichole’s Picks 1/9 + 1/10

Pick #1:  

Snowy Owl Prowl at the Crane Estate

snowy-owl_268

Photo courtesy of http://www.the trustees.org

Wide-open coastal sites are the location of choice for wintering Snowy Owls; common perches are dunes and salt hay staddles. In winters past, the owls have been frequent visitors to the Crane Wildlife Refuge. Join us as we hike the dunes in search of these magnificent birds. Unlike most owls, snowy owls are diurnal – they hunt and are active both day and night – so we have a good chance of sighting one even in the daylight hours! We’ll warm up with hot cider at the end of our hike.

Please note: We will be hiking up and down dunes, through soft sand, for approximately 2.5 miles. Dress for the weather to maximize comfort and minimize misery! Water is always good to have along. A spotting scope and/or binoculars are helpful when searching for snowy owls. Suggested ages 13 and older. Pre-registration required.

Click HERE to preregister and to read more!

Pick #2:  

2nd Saturday Free at the Cape Ann Museum

FAMILY FUN FREE DAY

The second Saturday of every month is free for families with school-aged children. Families are invited to the Activity Center to participate in art, history, and cultural activities, and explore the museum using a Seek and Find. Each month has a different theme, from exhibitions, to special celebrations, to treasures from the Archives. It’s all about FUN!

http://www.capeannmuseum.org/programs/youth-family-programs/

morning_at_the_museum_2008_009

Photo courtesy of the Cape Ann Museum

Pick #3: Open Skate at Talbot Rink

Most Saturdays and Sundays from 2:00-4:00 anyone can take to the ice for a very small fee!  Skate rentals are available as well.

Find the rink schedule HERE

images

For a more comprehensive list of family activities, please visit our friends at North Shore Kid.

 

THE SNOWY OWL PROJECT

With all the wonderful recent Snowy Owl sightings in Gloucester, I have been reading much about the Snowies and in doing so came upon this great project being conducted by Norman Smith, Director of Mass Audubon’s Blue Hills Trailside Museum. Since 1981, Smith has been studying the Snowy Owls and as part of his research, he attaches bands and transmitters to the owls at Logan Airport, and then tracks their travels.

norman-smith-with-snowy-owl-lifting-off-c-raymond-mcdonald_large_landscape

From the Mass Audubon website:

Snowy Owls and Airports

As snowy owls migrate north and south, they look for stopping places that resemble their home, the Arctic tundra. To them, the land around Logan Airport fits the bill. It’s low and flat, with short scruffy plants and grasses, and there’s an abundance of small mammals and birds to eat.

Logan airport has the largest known concentration of snowy owls in the Northeast. The birds usually show up at the airport in early November; the earliest date recorded is October 22. They leave in early April; the latest date recorded is July 7.

The airport owls help by scaring away other birds that might endanger aircraft. Unfortunately, they are large enough to pose a threat themselves. To protect both birds and jets, Smith safely captures and relocates snowy owls each year.

Tracking Snowy Owls

Since 1997, Smith has attached tiny transmitters to the healthiest owls he relocates. 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.

This project is a partnership with the US Geological Survey (USGS) and Boise State University (BSU).

Note: This work is performed with special permits. The public is not allowed to enter restricted airport property, or to capture any kind of owl or other raptor.

Migration movement of owl #134376 March 9, 2014- April 11, 2015.

owl-134376-movements-march-9-2014-april-11-2015_imagefull

More from Mass Audubon

Link to more very cool Snowy Owl migration maps.

Tips for Viewing Snowy Owls

About Snowy Owls

 

 

 

 

NEW VIDEO: SNOWY OWL AT CAPTAIN JOES!

Snowy Owl Gloucester Massachusetts ©Kim Smith 2015So many thanks to Joey and Tom Ring for the wonderful tip. The Snowy is gorgeous!!! My right arm is a little unsteady with robo-cast but still managed to get a few moments. Notice how the Snowy Owl rotates its head, giving him nearly a 360 degree viewing vantage. The crows and a hawk* were noisily dive-bombing the Snowy, but he held his ground. I hope we see him again soon.

*Chris Anderson reports that the perching and diving bird is a Peregrine Falcon.

Snowy Owl Captain Joe and Sons ©Kim Smith 2015

YET ANOTHER GLOUCESTER SNOWY OWL SIGHTING! And Lemmings

Another Snowy Owl sighting, this submitted by Kim Bertolino in East Gloucester. Thanks so much to Kim for sharing her beautiful photo!

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We were talking about Snowy Owls and lemmings in Sunday’s podcast when questions about where lemmings live and what do they look like came up. Lemmings are a small rodent that comprise the bulk of the Snowy Owl’s diet in their northern breeding grounds, the Arctic tundra. They are about 3 to 6 inches long with silky fur and short tales, and are closely related to voles and muskrats. The Snowy eats between three to five lemmings per day in the tundra! Read more about lemmings here.

Although we can’t offer the Snowies a diet of lemmings, we do have lots of mice and rats readily available to hunt during the winter months. Cape Ann’s open shoreline, of beaches, dunes, and rocky outcroppings, are a somewhat similar terrain to that of the tree-less tundra. Snowies are diurnal; they have evolved to hunt during the day and night because in the tundra during their breeding season the hours of daylight are continuous. A Snowy couldn’t survive in the Arctic if it could only hunt during night time like most other species of owls.

The following BBC article about lemmings is super interesting and well worth reading: The Truth About Norwegian Lemmings

E464P8 Norway lemming (Lemmus lemmus) calling on spring snow, Vauldalen, Norway, May

Norway Lemming (Lemmus lemmus)

Photo Credit: Nature Picture Library / Alamy

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Adult male Snowy Owl delivering a lemming to a female on the nest. The female is feeding a chick. Bathurst Island, Nunavut, Canada. JuneGerrit Vyn Photography

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Snowy Owl Atop The F/V Endeavor Photos from Janelle Favaloro

Heard people were looking for the snowy owl in East Gloucester. Located him on top of the F/V Endeavor today and grabbed a couple of shots. Would have loved to climb aboard the ship for a better shot, but the hubby said No!  Had to stay on the dock!
Janelle Favaloro

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(ONE MORE) SNOWY OWL SIGHTING!

This photo was sent to us by friends at Good Harbor Beach.

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If any of our readers spots a Snowy hanging around, and you have a spare moment, please, please email me at kimsmithdesigns@hotmail.com. I would really love to get a good Snowy Owl capture for a current film project. Thank you!

Snowy Owl ~ Ghost of the Arctic

Snowy Owls have captured our imaginations partly because Harry Potter’s faithful companion Hedwig is a Snowy Owl, but also because unlike most owls, Snowy Owls hunt during the day, allowing us to observe their movements and struggle for survival more easily than their nocturnal cousins. Like all owls, the Snowy possesses a superb sense of hearing, binocular vision, and the ability to turn its head 270 degrees. A Snowy Owl’s hearing is so astute, it can capture prey under snow, without ever seeing the intended prey!

Snowy Owl Gloucester Massachusetts ©Kim Smith 2015

The Snowy Owl that was spotted in East Gloucester several days ago displayed this very behavior. Perched on a rock wall with a panoramic view of the surrounding fields, it held its body stone still all the while rotating its head around and around, up and down, and side to side. At one point, its head seemed to rotate in its socket nearly 360 degrees. In the two photos you can see the head turned seemingly backward from its front facing body, the second photo to an even greater degree than the first. By comparison, a human’s neck bones would snap if rotated to that measure and the blood vessels would close down. Owls not only have 14 very flexible neck bones, they have specialized blood vessels. When the circulation is cut off, others open to allow blood to flow.

Snowy Owl Gloucester Massachusetts January ©2015 Kim Smith

 Snowy Owl Irruption Update

Are Snowy Owls having a second irruption, two years in a row? It’s too early to tell. Just as with last year’s histoic incursion, they are again showing up all over eastern Massachusetts. My brief encounter with the Snowy Owl only left me wanting more!

You can learn much about the Snowy Owl from the tremendous film, The Magic of the Snowy Owl, linked here from a GMG post during last year’s widespread irruption. GMG FOB Mary McCloud shared this article from an Annapolis magazine, published last January, 2014.

Exciting Immature Snowy Owl Sighting In East Gloucester Today!

Juvenile Snowy Owl  Gloucester Massachusetts. ©Kim Smith 2015

Immature Snowy Owl East Gloucester 

Esme, Meadow, Atticus, Pilar, ©Kim Smith 2015Budding Ornithologists Meadow, Atticus, Frieda, Esme, and Pilar

Snowy Owl East Gloucester Massachusetts ©Kim Smith 2015Thanks so much to my sweet friends Dawn and Michelle for thinking to call me to come see!

Snowy Owl East Gloucester Massachusetts. ©Kim Smith 2015See previous GMG Snowy Owl post: Birds of Cape Ann and the Magic of the Snowy Owl

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