Catching a glimpse of a regal Snowy owl is a winter’s delight in Canada’s Deep South! These birds of prey can be especially hard to spot against a snowy landscape; and the cold weather might make it hard to stay outside - but bird watching can be a hoot over the winter too!
Standing nearly half a meter tall, with a wingspan of 1.5 meters, Snowy owls are one of the heaviest owls in North America. They spend summers far north of the Arctic Circle hunting ptarmigan, lemmings and other prey in 24-hour daylight. They also hunt during the day, but are rather shy and usually silent, unless nesting.
In winter, they leave their northern breeding grounds above the treeline and travel south during the winter. One of the best places to spot them is in open fields on top of fence posts or utility poles. They like to get a vantage point over the area to look for prey when hunting. Make sure to scan all elevated points - house roofs, utility poles, farm equipment, tall advertisement signs, dunes, snow fences, and large pieces of driftwood. Marshes and beaches devoid of trees more closely resemble the Arctic tundra they are accustomed to. When they fly, they usually stay close to the ground.
When you spot an owl, resist the temptation to get too close. These are amazing birds and are a thrill to observe, but be respectful that bird is trying to survive the winter months. Keep your distance so as not to stress the bird, and don’t overstay your welcome!
To find out more about birds of prey, make sure to attend Go Wild Grow Wild’s “Flight Show” where you can see amazing birds of prey in action.