A rare snowy owl video is making the rounds on social media mostly because how it was captured. A traffic video camera in Montreal, Quebec, in Canada, managed to catch the winter bird in flight as it soared straight toward the camera, giving us several breathtaking snowy owl photos from its normal flying height.
In a related report by the Inquisitr, New York’s freezing temperatures during February of 2015 attracted the attention of the snowy owls, whose migration took them all the way down into the United States. With the 2016 polar vortex set to create freezing weather in America once again in January, perhaps someone will be able to capture another snowy owl video soon?
Quebec Transport Minister Robert Poeti first released the photos of the snowy owl on both Twitter and Facebook this Thursday.
Magnifique harfang des neiges capté par les caméras de surveillance du réseau routier sur l’A-40 dans l’ouest de MTL pic.twitter.com/ivaKZDel9r
— Robert Poëti (@robertpoeti) January 7, 2016
The snowy owl photo was captured along highway 40 in western Montreal. When translated via Google Translate, the message from Poeti says, “Beautiful snowy owl taken by the road network surveillance cameras on the A-40 in western MTL.” On Facebook, he also left this message.
“An impressive solo was captured in full flight on the morning of 3 January, by the surveillance cameras of the road network on highway 40, at the height of the boulevard des sources in the west of the island of Montreal,” he said based upon the automatic Facebook translation. “Here’s a couple of shots of this beautiful snowy owl!”
But the best part was when the Quebec Transport Minister released the full snowy owl video in addition to the image stills from the traffic camera feed.
Barbara Frei, the director of the McGill Bird Observatory, told CBC that capturing snowy owls in flight on video may be rare, but there probably was a good reason why the Arctic bird targeted the Canadian traffic video camera.
“I think they are attracted specifically to the highway because it has open, grassy fields nearby which is perfect for hunting their favorite prey, which is small rodents,” she said. “They like to get a good lay of the land and the high lamp posts or other posts that they can perch on while hunting just suits them perfectly.”
Frei says the Arctic bird breeds while north of the Arctic Circle during the summer. During the summer they hunt the far north, but the snowy owls’ migration patterns will take them down to southern Canada on a regular basis during the winter. When snowy owls migrate south this is called an irruption, and bird watchers have spotted the Arctic bird as far as the northern areas of South America.
During the early Spring of 2014 there was a notable number of snowy owls migrating far into the United States, so Larry Clarfeld from the North Branch Nature Center provided an explanation for the rare sight.
“The reason we are seeing so many snowy owls this year has everything to do with their food. So in the Arctic breeding ground, snowy owls like to eat lemmings and this past summer of 2013, there were so many lemmings in the Arctic that many young snowy owls were born but once winter came there wasn’t enough food for them to stay in the Arctic so we had them moving south in record numbers.”
In general, the snowy owls stay within the Arctic circle until the weather changes in the Arctic, then slowly migrate back north when the balance of predator and prey is corrected. So, while a snowy owls video is not unheard of, it is still pretty rare according to the experts.
[Image via Transport Quebec]