Hatem

Releasing A Wild Snowy Owl Today.

18 posts in this topic

Some of you know I do some volunteer work with the MA Audubon Society particularly with their raptors (birds of prey) and every year, for a weekend in February, the one center that I volunteer at wich is directed by my friend Norman Smith who is a well known and very respected raptor expert all across the East Coast and the center takes 3 van-loads of people who sign up and pay for the daily excursion and we take them all over the place to areas that not too many people know where we see pretty uncommon birds of prey.

One of the biggest highlights and favorites is the snowy owl and because many of them who migrate south from Canada to winter here end up at Logan Airport where all the green grass around the tarmac and runways is very reminiscent of the arctic tundra where these birds live. Not to mention there are a lot of ducks and all kinds and rodents galore to feed off. But as many pilots that we have on this forum know, birds and bird strikes on jet engines is not a pleasant thing. So Logan airport has several companies that deal with certain species relocation programs and Norman is designated to deal with all the birds of prey and especially the large count of snowy owls since they are an endangered bird and he is very familiar with trapping them carefully etc.

So he catches them and takes advantage of these weekend trips to release at least one far away from the airport at Plum Island which in the winter, also resembles the arctic tundra. Most of the time he puts transmitters on them to track their movements (making sure they dont return to Logan airport) and study their migratory behaviors. But since funding has been low this year and each transmitter costs over $10K, this particular bird he released today did not have one on. But this is a spectacular male and I've witnessed over 30 (maybe more) of these releases but today, though, I thought I would take some pics and plaster them on this thread to share with anyone who might be interested.

My friend Norman with the bird as soon as we showed up to the releasing point and a huge group gathered behind us witnessing this magnificent hunter and creature. This is an adult, male snowy owl and you can tell by how bare and pure white the chest is. The females are heavily or have more barring on the chest and wings.

IMG_3899_zpsipepgkol.jpg

A view of the pristine back and great health and shape he was in.

IMG_3897_zps3njxcdw6.jpg

Showing the wingspan and why these birds are incredible hunters and migrants by using their large wings.

IMG_3896_zpsvy2jrrqa.jpg

Countdown to getting ready for the release. He does make funny faces lol.

IMG_3895_zpsi9brtpry.jpg

And off he goes. I'm amazed at this view and how muscular those legs are for obvious reasons. A view you almost never get to see.

imagejpeg_0_zpsnncj38kx.jpg

Well, I hope you enjoyed it as I did today. Something quite wintery for this winter even though it was a balmy 55 degrees today. Cheers.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Beautiful bird, it's not always about boats. Thanks for your thoughtfulness and sharing it with us. Denny.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Beautiful bird, it's not always about boats. Thanks for your thoughtfulness and sharing it with us. Denny.

Absolutely, Denny. That's why I posted it in Dock Talk to get away from boat related topics. Forum was great when Joe Miska was participating but he's taking some time off and I'm sure he would've loved this.

Thanks for your positive comments, much appreciated.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Cool, thx Drew. I don't think you would see those down in your neck of the woods. :)

Probably not, but we have other animals and ecosystems in need!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks everyone, glad you enjoyed the pics and appreciate all the positive comments. Like Denny said, it's not all about boating and it's great this forum has a section for this kind of stuff, especially during the winter. :)

Here's a couple of close-up's of the face. Sharon is a great photographer and she was riding shotgun in my van and just sent me these pics.

The interesting thing is not only their downy feathers are super heavy to help them stay warm and store their own body heat (kinda like a built-in furnace lol) and their feathers cover almost all their feet as you see in the first pic of the thread to also keep them warm but what is more fascinating is seeing pics of these birds sleeping on the ground right next to the runway and not even flinching as all these loud jets go by one after the other! Their ears are somewhere under those head feathers and they are not small, either. Truly incredible.

Love the yellow eyes and those whiskers lol. Keeps that beak warm in the heavy cold.

Snowy%20close-up_zps7e42oibh.png

Snowy%20close-up%202_zpswunqkjgn.png

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Probably not, but we have other animals and ecosystems in need!

No question and what an incredible wildlife in beautiful Florida! :) Hey, ever see these guys, Drew? Some type of jellyfish? There was a lot of these washed up on the beach in Miami. Neat and unusual blue color.

20151224_141028_zpswsts0rr2.jpg

20151224_141242_zps8w6gierw.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

No question and what an incredible wildlife in beautiful Florida! :) Hey, ever see these guys, Drew? Some type of jellyfish? There was a lot of these washed up on the beach in Miami. Neat and unusual blue color.

20151224_141028_zpsqlme5sgg.jpg

20151224_141242_zps8w6gierw.jpg

Looks like a Portuguese man o war! It's actuall a colonial organism, not a jellyfish.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Looks like a Portuguese man o war! It's actuall a colonial organism, not a jellyfish.

You're right! I just looked it up and it's not related to jellyfish yet delivers a nasty sting as well. There were a lot of them washed up on the shore and people walking by avoiding them, of course. Good call by you. Not sure why the other photo didn't show up. I just fixed it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What? No drone footage of the release? So disappointing, lol.

Very cool pics. I've never seen on in person. It looked like your buddy had a good hold of those feet! I was suprised he didn't have a glove on. Also don't see many mustaches above the nose/beak. Of course, I suppose the upper beak could technically be considered an upper lip, lol.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What? No drone footage of the release? So disappointing, lol.

Very cool pics. I've never seen on in person. It looked like your buddy had a good hold of those feet! I was suprised he didn't have a glove on. Also don't see many mustaches above the nose/beak. Of course, I suppose the upper beak could technically be considered an upper lip, lol.

Hahaha, imagine a drone flying around getting close to these rare birds in front of hundreds or thousands of bird watchers and tree-huggers lmao? But guess what, you just gave me a great idea that never crossed my mind which is strange in of itself! I'd have to ask Norman if he would allow it for next year's release and if he agrees (which I doubt because there's Park Rangers there and it is a protected wildlife reservation) but that would be great! Especially since after it flew out of his hands, it winged it for about 100 yards landing on the top of a leafless tree giving everyone a great view while it settled itself to the new location and probably adjusted it's inner satellite lol as well as preen and adjust a few feathers here and there and 15 minutes later flew towards the ocean and landed on the top of one of the sand dunes. So a drone would've offered great footage.

He never wears gloves even when he has to reach into the box to get it which is the most dangerous time but I did notice he got nicked because he was wiping a tiny bit of blood off his hand later. He says it's much easier to handle them without gloves since they are wild ones and not trained to sit on your hand which would then require gloves for sure.

Funny, I've always wanted to tell him (before the recent grey has settled in) that if he shortened his mustache, he'd resemble Hitler a little bit loooool but I never dared!

Here's a pic an hour later of an American Kestrel which is the smallest falcon in North America and it's numbers are dwindling rapidly! We used to see this beautiful bird more often than the last 5 years and now it's like very exciting to find one. Many have their reasons but the one that stands out is predation by Coopers hawks. I could get into details but I know most would not be interested lol.

Anyone guess what it's got in it's beak?

Kestrel%20WR_zpsf1ayfqvp.png

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Might as well add this guy which fishing right in the middle of everyone on Miami Beach I thought it was great. Got him with my phone camera and it was not easy.

Anyone else feel like posting any pics of birds in action they've taken, please do so!

20151224_140449_zpsrvgr77rf.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now