"On the Wings of Research" Owl Transmitter Project

by Center for Wildlife
Mar 6, 2012

Great Horned Owl Hunts Successfully This Winter!

Staff and owl board the Hope III to release owl
Staff and owl board the Hope III to release owl

This great horned owl is no ordinary owl in many different respects.  Beyond being one of the first rehabilitated owls to be tracked post-release, she is also an island dwelling owl.  Her rescuers found her at their home on Hope Island, which is one of several small islands off the coast of Portland in Casco Bay.  Her rescuers called often to check on her recovery, and were one of the first lead donors to support the transmitter.  They check in almost weekly to hear reports and updates from the transmitter, and have reported spotting "Hootie" (as they fondly call her) hunting around their property every so often.  Thanks to your donations, we have been able to share updates and maps of the great horned owl's amazing travels over the open ocean on our website and Facebook pages.  Center for Wildlife staff, volunteer, interns, and our community all look forward to the weekly updates, and are amazed that this owl with limited vision not only hunts for herself, but traverses the open ocean regularly. 


As we arrived to the island when we brought her home for release, we could see that the great horned owl had chosen the perfect habitat for herself.  This island and the ones surrounding it offer the perfect open habitat bordered by forest and snags for hunting, nesting, and perching.  Great horned owls are dynamic hunters, with 200-300 pounds per square inch of crushing power in their talons.  Amazing for a 3-5 pound bird!  These birds have an extremely wide range of prey with over 250 species identified.  We were hopeful that she would have a great variety of species in this healthy ecosystem, and it is certainly proving to support her! 


We are so pleased to report that our great horned owl is doing well, and makes some pretty incredible journeys on almost a nightly basis!  The transmitter is set to turn on for 8 hours at a time, and then off for 88 hours (3 days and 16 hours).  This will allow us to retrieve readings every 3 days for the life of the battery- 1.5 years.  We have been amazed to find out that this owl often travels 1-3 km in one evening around the islands surrounding Hope Island.  For the past two weeks she has changed her traveling patterns, and instead of hunting on different islands around Hope, she has been staying put on a small island north of Hope called Bangs Island.  This is great horned owl nesting season, and we are hopeful that she may have found a mate, and is staying put because she is busy incubating eggs in a nest.  Thanks to your support we can find out more about these amazing creatures!    



Great horned owl
Great horned owl's habitat on Casco Bay Islands
Great horned owl
Great horned owl's latest travels

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Organization Information

Center for Wildlife

Location: Cape Neddick, Maine - USA
Website: http:/​/​www.thecenterforwildlife.org
Center for Wildlife
Project Leader:
Kristen Lamb
Cape Neddick, ME United States

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