'Absolutely thrilling': Snowy owls spotted in Ottawa area
Published Tuesday, January 14, 2014 6:54PM EST
Ottawa residents are spotting more snowy owls in the capital region this winter, thanks to an "irruption" that's seeing more birds fly farther south of their usual range in the boreal forest.
An irruption is an irregular migration of birds to a region where they aren't usually found. This winter, snowy owls have been heading south in large numbers.
Hundreds of snowy owls have been spotted across Canada and the U.S. Earlier this month, a snowy owl was even spotted in Florida's Little Talbot Island Park, near Jacksonville.
It's partly being caused by a huge explosion in the number of snowy owls in the Arctic, which has caused some to move south in search of food, Carleton University biology instructor Michael Runtz told CTV Ottawa.
"They had a bumper year of reproduction in the Arctic," Runtz said. "When owls are well fed in their nesting territories, they produce more eggs and more young survive when they hatch."
Wildlife photographer Doug Griffith has spotted 30 snowy owls so far this winter. He described to CTV Ottawa how he felt seeing a snowy owl for the first time in Kanata, Ont.
"All of a sudden this snowy owl came right out of a field to my right," he said. "I got some absolutely fabulous shots."
He said seeing the beautiful bird in real life was "absolutely thrilling.”
"At the moment …. you're so concentrating on just trying to capture the moment… but then all of a sudden, afterwards you're thinking, 'Man, was I ever lucky.'"
Griffith has some tips for other birders who want to see a snowy owl.
"You'll find them on high spots, usually light standards, telephone, hydro poles," he said. "They're constantly moving their heads. They're constantly looking."
Wade Clare spotted a snowy owl Tuesday morning at Carleton Place.
"I think everyone's excited to see an owl," Clare said. "You don't see them every day."
With a report by CTV Ottawa's Katie Griffin