A snowy owl that recently found itself stranded in Canada's Little Lake near North West River was fished out of the frigid water thanks to a kind-hearted kayaker. Billy LR Gauthier and Kara Montague were enjoying a gentle paddle on the lake when an owl swooped down from a nearby bridge startling Gauthier. It "really came quite close to me," Gauthier told CBC News. The couple quickly realised that the owl's aerial acrobatics were an effort to escape a mob of dive-bombing ravens that eventually forced the avian predator into the lake.

Concerned that the raptor – now floating in the icy water – would not be able to make it to shore, the duo paddled towards the drenched bird to lend a hand. Gauthier gently scooped the owl out of the lake with his paddle and steered it towards the bow of his kayak. The bird obliged and hauled itself onto the boat. "She was completely waterlogged. Her wings were just totally saturated," Gauthier said. "She just sat there in front of me for about 15 minutes. We just kept making eye contact, and I'll never forget those incredible yellow eyes staring right at me. It was unbelievable."

Corvids and owls have a notoriously strained relationship and crows and ravens will readily divebomb the raptors, sometimes even killing them if they can rally together a big enough flock. Snowy owls dine primarily on mammals, but they may pose a risk to other birds, so they often find themselves under attack.

Gauthier began to slowly row his kayak to shore while his avian passenger dried off at the bow. As he approached the shoreline the owl took off and landed on a nearby stump where it remained for an hour before flying off. The owl was allegedly taken in by wildlife officials later in the day.

"I love wildlife, and I always have. But this experience is extra, extra special to me," Gautheir added.

Top header image: Lonnie Janzen/Flickr