Update from Alaska: "It's a tough year on the tundra"

July 5, 2022

 

Today we heard from Denver and got an update on how the 2022 Snowy Owl breeding season is going:

So far only one Snowy Owl nest

As of today, he's only been able to find one active Snowy Owl nest in ORI's study area, which is in and around the town of Utqiagvik, Alaska.


This nest has 6 eggs, and he estimates that the female started laying on June 16 or 17-- which is about 30 days later than normal. Typically, Snowy Owl eggs hatch sometime around June 15 to 21th.


A female Snowy Owl lays flat on the tundra, covering the eggs in her nest. She is peering at the camera.
Female Snowy Owl on the nest. Photo taken by ORI volunteer Jennifer Sperry.

The male and female are both attentive, and keep a close eye on the researchers when they check on the nest. To Denver, 6 eggs in the nest indicates that they are a good pair, and that their territory is located in a lemming hotspot.


An all-white male Snowy Owl sits upright on the ground, looking towards the camera.
The male Snowy Owl on the ground near the nest, keeping a close eye on researchers. Photo by Jennifer Sperry.

Live stream camera- coming soon!

The plan is to try to put a live stream cam on this nest sometime in the next week or so! Follow ORI's social media and website for updates, and visit explore.org to check it out!


Learn more about ORI's live cam partnership with explore.org



An all-white male Snowy Owl in flight.
The male Snowy Owl in flight. Photo by Jennifer Sperry.

"It's a tough year on the tundra"

When Denver arrived in Utqiagvik on June 14, there was still snow on the tundra, and the spring melt-off was very late. He wasn't able to get out to do any surveys for a few days (he usually gets out right away) because of the snow.


He reports many male Snowy Owls on territories in the study area, and some territories with both male and female owls. These territories that have pairs on them could have had nests that failed early, but there's not way to tell for sure. All of the known Snowy Owl territories in the study area are occupied.