While owls can be observed in Ontario year round, perhaps one of the best times for owl viewing in Ontario occurs between December and February. This is due to the combination of our regular wintering owls and the addition of species such as Snowy Owls that spend the winter in Southern Ontario.
The regal Snowy Owl is one of the few birds that can even encourage non-birders to come out for a look. They are instantly recognizable thanks to Harry Potter, as well as their key features such as white plumage and yellow eyes. Snowy Owls are North America’s largest owl (by weight), larger animals weighing upwards of 2.95 kg (6.5 lbs.). Males and females are sexually dimorphic; males are always the whitest birds, while females have heavy dark brown to black barring. Unlike many of the other owls in Ontario, Snowy Owls are exclusively diurnal they hunt and are active when there is daylight, in the Arctic this could be at all hours when there is continuous daylight. Snowy Owls are also unusual in comparison to other Ontario owls, for their habit of preferring to sit on the ground or lower level perches such as fencepost.
In Southern Ontario we typically see Snowy Owls during the months of December, January and February near open water, shorelines or wide open flat fields. They migrate during the winter into Southern Ontario from the Arctic in search of food, which depending on the severity of the winter can be hard to find. The number of individuals that migrate into Southern Ontario varies from year to year, their migrations are extremely variable. This may be attributed to the lemming cycles farther north. During years with larger migrations or interruption (periodic mass movements of birds into new areas beyond their normal ranges) years Snowy Owls can be found Canada wide and in the lower 48 states and as far south as Texas and Florida. In 2011 a Snowy Owl even turned up in Honolulu, Hawaii, the first record for the state.
During this tour we will spend the day searching a local hotspot and known locations in the Greater Toronto Area for Snowy Owls. Depending on the location we may also be able to view other owls such as Great Horned Owls, Long-eared Owls, Short-eared Owls and Northern Saw-whet Owls. We will also be looking for other wintering birds including Snow Buntings, Horned Larks, Rough-legged Hawks and Bald Eagles.
Best Time of Year to View Snowy Owls
The best time of year to see Snowy Owls in Southern Ontario is during the winter during January and February.
Tour Notes and Guidelines
SOLD OUT FOR 2017
NOW BOOKING 2018
SCHEDULED GROUP TOURS
Sun Jan 7, 2018: $60 per person*
PRIVATE TOURS AVAILABLE
1-2 People: $250* per group
3-4 People: $350* per group
5-6 People: $420* per group
* Price does not include meals or transportation, please see the Tour Notes and Guidelines for a full list of items not included
**Tour operates only if participate limit is met