Duxbury Beach providing temporary refuge for snowy owls

Snowy white owls rescued from Logan Airport are finding temporary refuge on the quiet sands of Duxbury Beach.

Norman Smith, director of the Massachusetts Audubon Society’s Blue Hills Trailside Museum in Milton, said he has released 32 of the owls in Duxbury so far this winter.

“They hopefully will continue their journey south,’’ he said.


Smith said he captures the birds for the safety of the birds and those at the airport — “since birds and airports don’t mix,” he says — and releases them in Duxbury in the earlier part of the winter when the birds are heading south.

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He said the protective barrier beach provides a welcoming place for them to rest and perhaps spend some time.

Smith said he will begin to release the owls near Plum Island, north of the city, around the last week in January, when the birds are making their way back north toward the Arctic Circle.

He said he plans to put satellite trackers on a few owls in January and February; the owls are believed to travel as far south as North Carolina and Bermuda.

Smith said he has been relocating the owls for 32 years. “It’s a long-term project,” he said.


He said this year has seen an unusually high number of snowy owls in the area. During an average winter, Mass Audubon captures six to 10 snowy owls; this year, said Smith, it has already caught 40.

Recent sightings of the birds have been mostly along the coastline of New England, with some sightings in Western Massachusetts and elsewhere.

MassAudubon suggests that people not get too close to the owls, so as to not disturb their behavior. For more information, go to

Jean Lang can be reached at jeanmcmillanlang@