Snow owls will be the topic at the Paskamansett Bird Club’s monthly meeting on Wednesday, Nov. 13, at 7:30 p.m. at the Dartmouth Grange, 1133 Fisher Road, Dartmouth (not the club’s usual meeting place).
Norman Smith, director of Mass Audubon’s Blue Hills Trailside Museum and the Norman Smith Environmental Education Center, will speak about his work with snowy owls.
A self-taught naturalist who has always been fascinated by owls, Mr. Smith has spent countless days and nights since 1981 in all imaginable weather studying these largest owls in North America.
As part of his research, he has worked with Logan Airport, observing and capturing snowy owls that could pose a danger to air traffic, banding them, and releasing them further along their migration path. (Unfortunately, snowy owls love airports!) To date, Mr. Smith has banded 442 snowy owls at the airport, and information on where the banded owls have traveled has added to knowledge of their breeding area and migration patterns.
In 1997, Mr. Smith began working on a project with the US Geological Survey and Boise State University (BSU), attaching tiny transmitters to some of the owls he captured.
These transmitters send out data such as location, temperature, and altitude. The signal is picked up by a satellite and eventually retransmitted to BSU, where maps are created to show where the owls have been. As a result, new information about roosting, hunting and behavior while on their wintering grounds has been collected.
He has done extensive research on many different raptors, and his work has been written about in National Geographic, National Wildlife, Ranger Rick, Yankee, Massachusetts Wildlife, Bird Observer, Birding, Sanctuary, Geo, Nature, Grolier Encyclopedia, Owls of the Northern Hemisphere and Owls of the World.
The meeting is free, open to the public, and accessible. Parking is available on the grass at the Grange, on Fisher Road (on the Grange side of the street) and in the parking areas of Alderbrook Farm (across the street from the grange).
Norman Smith with a snowy owl.