Jim Williams has been watching birds and writing about their antics since before "Gilligan's Island" went into reruns. Join him for his unique insights, his everyday adventures and an open conversation about the birds in your back yard and beyond.

Ramsey the Snowy Owl has moved south

Posted by: Jim Williams under Bird biology, Bird migration, Bird sightings Updated: March 22, 2014 - 10:01 PM

The Snowy Owl named Ramsey has moved from its location in the city of Ramsey to a farm field south of Hutchinson. At least that is where is was on the March 18, the most recent date for which information is available. Ramsey to Hutchinson is a 76-mile trip if you follow the route recommended by MapQuest. Ramsey did not follow that route.

The owl left the city of Ramsey at about sunup on March 13, heading southwest. The map tracing his route is fascinating. You can see exactly where it went, and, by the collected blobs of markers, where and when it stopped to hunt. The map is just plain fun to look at, and gives you information never before available in any way. Go to www.projectSNOWstorm, click on maps, click on the Minnesota location.

Ramsey crossed I-94 at about 7:45 that morning, hunting that evening near Corcoran. It flew over Lake Independence in morning darkness on March 14. It was over Watertown an hour later, flying about 200 feet off the ground at 31 miles per hour. Its speed on departure from Ramsey, incidentally, was a leisurely 11 miles per hour. During the entire trip its top recorded speed was 34 miles per hour.

The morning of the 15th the owl hunted west of Watertown. It began moving west/southwest that night, its transmitter placing the bird five miles east of Hutchinson at 4:27 a.m. on March 16. That day it moved very close to its location it had on the 18th. The map shows Ramsey hunting and roosting in an area along State Highway 15 about three miles south of Hutchinson. At night he seemed to prefer hunting fields east of the highway. During the day it was closer to the road or to its west.

Posting of these maps is delayed 72 hours because precise and timely location information is feared to attract photographers. There have been problems with photographers harassing owls at almost every location where Project SNOWstorm has a tagged owl. (There are 21 of them.)

I’ll update Ramsey’s movements when the next report is available, or you can track the owl yourself. Soon, it and the other owls are going to turn north and return to their Arctic nesting locations.

Below is Ramsey, photographed about two weeks ago at its city Ramsey location, which is west of Anoka and east of Elk River along Highways 169/10. The transmitter that allows the bird’s location to be charted can be seen on its back just below its neck. The very light piece of equipment stores the information it collects, transferring it to the Pennsylvania headquarters of the project when the bird is within range of a cell-phone tower.

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