Remember Ramsey, the quirky snowy owl that took up residence in Ramsey last winter?
The youngster from the Arctic was one of 22 snowy owls across North America that had been tagged with transmitters and were tracked by Project SNOWstorm, a nonprofit operation based in Pennsylvania that studies the birds. Ramsey made a name for himself through his devotion to Ramsey, rarely straying beyond a mile radius of the city’s COR development area. He spent hours on roofs of buildings, on light standards and, after dark, on road signs.
“A fascinating bird, the consummate homebody that rarely budged,” Scott Weidensaul, a co-founder of Project SNOWstorm, said last summer, after Ramsey had headed north and flown beyond the range where he could be tracked. Ramsey left Anoka County last March, and his transmitter was picked up in late April in eastern Saskatchewan by the last cell tower between there and the Arctic.
We asked Weidensaul last week if there had been any further sightings of Ramsey. The answer is no — “at least, not yet.” Weidensaul said that while three other snowy owls from last winter had come back into cell range, Ramsey isn’t one of them. It’s possible he died, as he was a young bird on his first migration last winter and “young birds have a low first-year survival rate,” Weidensaul said in an e-mail. On the other hand, Ramsey had already made it through the most dangerous phase of his odyssey when last heard from. It’s also possible that he came south but is an area with little or no cell coverage, Weidensaul said. Another scenario is that he stayed north (although it’s hard for us to imagine how he could resist a return to Minnesota).
“If he’s still OK and just out of range, his GPS system should continue to log locations every 30 minutes around the clock,” Weidensaul said. “… if and when he does eventually return south into cell range, we’d get that data.”
For further information about Project SNOWstorm, go to http://www.projectsnowstorm.org.