ORI's Snowy Owl study site, Utqiagvik, Alaska


The Owl Research Institute's Snowy Owl study is based out of Utqiagvik, Alaska (formerly named Barrow) - the northernmost city in the United States and located north of the Arctic Circle. It is here that lead researcher Denver Holt, ORI researchers, and countless volunteers have spent the last 27 summers conducting the Snowy Owl Breeding Ecology and Lemming Population Study.

Our study area is a 100-square mile area located in, and around, the Inupiat village where Holt has been given research authority over Snowy Owl nests by the Utqiagvik village and UIC Science. Transecting the tundra in search of owls and their nests requires reliable transportation - both 4-wheelers and snowmobiles - and lots and lots of hiking. This season researchers have been slowed by late snows, cold temps and, after temps warmed, deep water.

Unless you are a researcher, involved in the oil industry, or born there - it is unlikely you will find yourself in this part of the world. It is an area with a rich native history and unique present-day culture that relies on the ever-present plane traffic of the Alaskan skies to deliver supplies.

This video provides a good overview of the area - including some fun facts about grocery store prices - the most talked about tourist take-home topic. It IS expensive in Barrow - which is part of the reason our Snowy Owl project is by far our most costly research project.

Video credit: ©Wendover Productions, Why the Northernmost Town in America Exists

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