By Molly Daly

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – For a second year, Snowy Owls have been spending the winter well out of their normal Arctic range, with some turning up at the Jersey and Delaware shores.

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Although the number of the big white owls visiting this year isn’t as high as it was last winter, this year’s crop is offering researchers a treasure trove of information, and a fundraising effort to support the work is underway.

Last winter, Project Snowstorm took flight, outfitting visiting Snowy Owls with lightweight GPS transmitters that store information on their movements. Some of the birds are repeat visitors, packing data tracking their travels during the spring, summer, and fall, when they were out of the range of modern technology.

“They check in using cell towers every couple of days so basically, our research team gets texts from these owls as they travel around,” says Alexis Campbell, who leads the fundraising effort for the volunteer-staffed program.

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Campbell says the transmitters are $3,000 a pop, so contributions are essential:

“We launched the Indiegogo campaign a few weeks ago. We have a goal of $15,000, and we’re exactly halfway there at this moment. All of the money that we raise will directly fund Snowy Owl research.”

The information is invaluable, shedding light on the lives and habits on of bird about which little is known. Most favor flat terrain that resembles their native Artic tundra — airports, corporate parks, and beaches. Some hunt in a relatively small area, while others range farther afield.

On the Project Snowstorm site, you can also check out maps plotting each owl’s travels.

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One Snowy, a third-year male dubbed Baltimore for the place where he was trapped and tagged, has forsaken “Charm City” for the Jersey Shore, apparently having decided that Avalon is “cooler by a mile.”