It looks like a bird is finally giving the traffic-cam toucan a run for his money. A camera above a highway in Montreal, Canada recently snapped not one but four stunning images of a snowy owl in flight.  


McGill Bird Observatory director Barbara Frei suspects the owl (Bubo scandiaca) was looking for a place to perch when it passed by the camera lens. "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 suit them perfectly," she told CBC News. "I think they are attracted specifically to the highway because it has open, grassy fields nearby which is perfect for hunting their favourite prey."

But owls hunt at night, right? Not always. Though a daytime hunting tactic is unusual for most species, snowy owls are known to hunt while the sun is still shining. They typically feed on lemmings and other small rodents, but the powerful owls will eat just about anything they can get their talons on, including hares, birds (as large as geese!), and the occasional fish, amphibian, insect or crustacean.

The traffic-cam star is thought to be a young female, identifiable by the smattering of black bars on her plumage (male snowy owls are almost entirely white). That said, it's unlikely she'll be nesting anywhere in the area. Southern Canada is only a temporary home for these birds: in summer, she'll fly north to breed above the Arctic circle.


Top header image: Doug Brown/Flickr