Every year in North America some Snowy Owls migrate southward during Arctic winters while some remain in the Arctic. (In some winters — not this one — we see large numbers, or irruptions, of young owls in the Northeast which is thought to be a result of food and weather conditions further north.) Individuals that spend the winter in New England usually can be found near large, open terrain that resembles their Arctic breeding grounds. Agricultural fields, coastal dunes and airports provide them with an ample diet of small mammals and birds. Overwintering Snowy Owls begin to head northward in March and April. Occasionally a few owls linger on wintering grounds well into spring and summer (records of Snowy Owls exist in May in Massachusetts and June in New Hampshire).
Much has been learned about the migratory flights of Snowy Owls due to satellite tracking. According to Birds of North America, in February 2012, a transmitter attached to a female at Logan Airport in Boston, MA tracked an owl to Nunavut, Canada. The owl migrated north along Hudson Bay’s eastern shore during spring migration and returned south along Hudson Bay’s western shore during the autumn migration. It eventually returned to Logan Airport the following November, having completed a 7,000 mile round trip.
Naturally Curious is supported by donations. If you choose to contribute, you may go to http://www.naturallycuriouswithmaryholland.wordpress.com and click on the yellow “donate” button.