Stu Mills, an announcer on CBC radio, put the news out this morning that again there were snowy owls out at the Experimental Farm, a rural oasis n the middle of downtown Ottawa. I headed out at sunrise to catch a glimpse, along with hordes of birders, photographers, gawkers, and just plain folk who wanted to get a look at these rare (for here) and wonderful birds.
Snowy owls depend on lemmings and other small rodents for food and when the supply is short in their traditional habitats further north, they venture south, sometimes as far down as the southern United States.
This is one of those years, and there have been many sightings in the Ottawa-Gatineau area in recent weeks. According to those who know, they’ll hang around for another week or so, then head north again to breed.
When I arrived, there were two owls, although people report that on some days, the count has been as high as six. One was perched on a crib, the second was on the ground by a fence. Neither moved from their spots the whole time I was there, save to periodically swivel their heads.
After satisfying my owl spotting addiction, I ventured over to Fletcher’s Wildlife Garden, about a kilometer to the West of the farm, and spotted a Red Tailed Hawk, high in a conifer. A juvenile, I would judge, based on the fluff still around the head.