Norm Smith is a national treasure, I think. I envy you very much
the experience of banding with him. He's an incredibly nice guy,
totally dedicated to birds, a very smart and careful researcher,
and has a knock-out sense of humor on top of it.
I'm deeply embarrassed to note that I typed Norm "Thompson"
instead of Norm Smith in my post. Gahhh. I guess I had old
catalogs on my mind!
William St.Cyr wrote:
> Hi Jane,
> This was fun to read. I used to do a little volunteer work with Norm
> when I was a teenager growing up in Boston, a couple life times ago.
> Even went out banding with him a couple times. It was one of the
> thrills of my life at the time. I am glad to hear that he is still at
> it all these years later.
> Bill St.Cyr
> Montpelier, VT
> On Mar 30, 2009, at 12:40 PM, Jane Stein wrote:
>> Very interesting report posted on the Massbird list yesterday
>> from Mass. Audubon's Norm Thompson, who has been banding and
>> studying Snowy Owls at Boston's Logan Airport since 1981.
>> It's a long post with a lot of the history of Snowies at Logan
>> and can be found here
>> about the 7th post down.
>> A couple of excerpts of particular interest given some of the
>> discussion here about the influx of Snowies this year and whether
>> their location should be kept secret to protect them from stress:
>> "Prior to my investigations, the general consensus was that the
>> lack of
>> prey on the birds' breeding grounds is the primary reason that
>> snowy owls
>> come to New England; and that most never make it back to the
>> arctic. I
>> found it strange that in years that I captured high numbers of
>> snowy owls,
>> most were individuals born that year and in excellent condition.
>> banded owls returned to the airport years later."
>> "My study has shown that snowy owls are not coming to New England
>> because they are in poor condition as the prior literature has
>> Rather, they are coming here because of a good food supply in the
>> creating a strong breeding year with more owls to take a nomadic
>> south. We also know that many owls return to the arctic. We now
>> know this
>> because of the satellite transmitters that were placed on those
>> Banding these snowy owls has also been important as we have seen
>> a number
>> of owls return to the airport years later. For instance, one
>> snowy owl
>> returned to Logan 16 years after being banded, and it is the
>> oldest known
>> wild snowy owl in the world to date. Our 28 years of research has
>> shown that Logan Airport has the largest known wintering
>> population of
>> snowy owls in the northeast. As far as stress to these birds as
>> part of
>> our investigations is concerned, I have not seen any
>> documentation showing
>> that stress from birders, photographers or researchers impacts
>> owls or
>> other raptors. If anyone is aware of any reliable documentation that
>> indicates otherwise, I'd be interested in reviewing it."