Montreal traffic cam captures impressive photos of snowy owl in flight

We’d like to bet that a lot of the footage taken by Transport Quebec’s traffic cameras isn’t too exhilarating, and usually, that’s a good thing. But a camera along Montreal’s Highway 40 and Sources Boulevard recently captured a snowy owl spreading its wings.

The birds breed and spend their summers hunting north of the Arctic Circle, but they travel as far as southern Canada, including Montreal, in the winter. The snowy owl was actually adopted as Quebec’s official bird in 1987.

According to Barbara Frei, director of the McGill Bird Observatory, the owl in these photos was likely just looking for a place to perch.

“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 suits them perfectly,” Frei told CBC News. “I think they are attracted specially to the highway because it has open, grassy fields nearby, which is perfect for hunting their favourite prey, which is small rodents.”

The images were first tweeted on Thursday morning by Quebec’s Minister of Transport Robert Poëti.

“An impressive solo was captured in full flight on the morning of Jan. 3,” Poëti later wrote on Facebook.

Impressive, indeed. The owl’s gorgeous colouring and wide wingspan, which can be as long as 1.5 metres or 5 feet, took the internet by storm. The images were picked up by major news outlets and shared tens of thousands of times in a matter of hours.

Too bad bird-watching isn’t always this easy.