LISTEN LIVE KPR - On Air: Listen Live to classical, jazz and NPR news Schedule LATEST
KPR 2 - On Air: Listen live to KPR's all talk-radio service, KPR2 Recordings

Share this page              

We Followed A Snowy Owl From Maryland To Ontario

At the end of 2013, snowy owls started showing up far south of their usual winter range. The big white birds were reported in South Carolina, Georgia, even Florida.

Dave Brinker, an ecologist with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, had never seen anything like it.

"Something huge is going on," Brinker told his colleagues. "We won't see something like this for a long time, probably for the rest of our lifetimes."

The invasion wasn't just a boon to birders; it was a scientific opportunity. The lives of snowy owls aren't well understood because they spend much of their lives in the Arctic, far from humans. But Brinker and fellow bird biologist Scott Weidensaul knew if they could follow the movements of these wide-ranging owls as the birds returned to the frozen north, the scientists could learn a lot about their hunting patterns, breeding behavior and migration routes.

So the two men launched Project Snowstorm. They trapped visiting owls and fitted them with solar-powered GPS transmitters.

These transmitters are capable of recording exact latitude, longitude and altitude, to an accuracy of a couple of feet. That means we know the exact trees, homes, piers, silos and skyscrapers these owls rested on as they traversed the country.

I set out to follow the path of one young male owl, retracing his 14,000 GPS coordinates from a Maryland beach to his last known location up in Canada. We saw the things he saw, met the people he met and hoped to find the owl himself at the end of the road.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit

Tower Frequencies

91.5 FM KANU Lawrence, Topeka, Kansas City
89.7 FM KANH Emporia
99.5 FM K258BT Manhattan
97.9 FM K250AY Manhattan (KPR2)
91.3 FM  KANV Junction City, Olsburg
89.9 FM K210CR Atchison
90.3 FM KANQ Chanute
96.1 FM K241AR Lawrence (KPR2)

See the Coverage Map for more details

Contact Us

Kansas Public Radio
1120 West 11th Street
Lawrence, KS 66044
Download Map
785-864-4530 (Main Line)
888-577-5268 (Toll Free)