Snowy owl presentation is Jan. 12

Scott Weidensaul holds a snowy owl.

The Tiadaghton Audubon Society is hosting Scott Weidensaul’s program on snowy owls. It is free and open to the public.

Weidensaul, a leader in the field of ornithology and a co-founder of Project SNOWstorm, will speak on the project this Saturday, Jan. 12, at 2 p.m. in the Wellsboro Area High School Auditorium at 227 Nichols St., Wellsboro.

“He is one of the most sought after presenters in the country,” said Sean Minnick of the Tiadaghton Audubon Society, a local birding group. “His presentation on Project SNOWstorm and snowy owl migration is fun and interesting for all ages.”

Weidensaul will do a meet and greet and book signing following the presentation..

“We started Project SNOWstorm five years ago to get a better idea of how snowy owls live when they come down to the United States from the Arctic,” said Weidensaul. “That research began in 2013. This summer for the first time, we put transmitters on three snowy owl chicks in Alaska to find out what the juvenile survival rate is and the percentage that make it to their first birthday.”

The snowy owl breeds in open tundra, from Alaska through northern Canada, Greenland and Arctic Eurasia and each winter migrates to southern Canada and the northern United States, including Pennsylvania.

“Last month (December), a few snowy owls were seen in Pennsylvania along Lake Erie and in the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton area, for example,” said Weidensaul. “Their numbers vary from year to year. We had a big irruption of snowy owls last year and five years ago one of the biggest since the 1920s.

“On Saturday, I will talk about what makes snowy owls tick, why they come south periodically in big invasions, our concerns about snowy owl conservation and the impact of climate change on their breeding habits,” Weidensaul said.

“A snowy owl was sighted on Jan. 4, 2018 near Wellsboro on Route 660 between the Yellow Basket Shop and the turn to Leonard Harrison State Park,” said Minnick. “On April 2, 2018, we saw one at the Finger Lakes Regional Airport in Seneca Falls, N.Y. and two years ago one stayed in the Le Raysville area in Bradford County from Christmas until March. I took a picture of him on Jan. 4, 2017.”

For more information, contact the Tiadaghton Audubon Society at tasmember@yahoo.com or Sean or Robin Minnick by phone at 570-948-9052.