Tag Archives: Snowy Owl

It’s that time of year again!

Although they have been back in the area for a while, with the annual influx of Snowy Owls now in full swing, the roads in Clearview Township have been filled with avid birdwatchers looking for the chance to see a visitor from the north.

We are very fortunate to see quite a few of these beautiful birds perched on hydro poles, on trees along the fence rows, and in the large fields along the sideroads west of the Minesing Wetlands.

Our annual visiting owls attract quite a crowd and bring in bird watchers and naturalists from a wide area. To learn more about these birds, and their visit to southern Ontario, check our our earlier blog .

These striking birds are however not the only highlight on road-side bird watching trips at this time of year.

You can also see a variety of hawks in the area including Rough-legged, Northern Harrier, Northern Goshawk, Red-tailed, and Sharp-shinned hawks, as well as numerous American Kestrels.

If you are fortunate you will also see one of more of our resident Bald Eagles!

Other highlights include Pileated Woodpeckers, Northern Shrikes, and Great Blue Herons.

Along the south-west edge of the Minesing Wetlands you will also have a good chance of running into Wild Turkeys as they make their way through woodlands and neighbouring fields.

Spending just an hour along the sideroads bordering the Minesing Wetlands in the month of January can be a rewarding trip.

Bring your binoculars and cameras and stay safe!

The 2014-15 Snowy Owl Irruption

The open fields of Clearview Township, in Simcoe County, Ontario, have become a hotspot again this year for birders and photographers spotting Snowy Owls.  Numerous birds can be observed perched on fenceposts and poles throughout the agricultural areas of the Township.

Capture3Snowy Owls normally live in the high arctic, but once in a while their range extends much further south in a natural phenomenon known as an irruption.  One of the largest irruptions in many decades occurred in the winter of 2013-14 and another significant irruption has occurred again this winter with birds being sighted even further south and west than normal.  In fact, observations have been reported as far south as the Carolinas and northern Florida.

The reason Snowy Owls move south is not fully understood, but new research is suggesting that the reason may be different than the commonly held belief.  The cause that many people have heard is that the owls move south due to a scarcity of food in their normal habitat during the winter months.  More recent findings suggest that, instead, the owls move south because of a plentiful supply of food (such as lemmings and voles) in the preceding breeding season in the Arctic.  It appears that a plentiful food supply results in a larger production of birds as a result of a very successful nesting season. When food supplies are plentiful the normal clutch size of 3-5 eggs mayIMG_0700 jump to as many as 7 -11 eggs. The number of surviving fledglings may also correspondingly increase.  As so many birds mature, they move south, and studies indicate that those birds  are healthy and well-fed.

Research on the cause of irruptions continues, however it is apparent that we are in the midst of another significant irruption following a similar event just last year.

When large numbers of the birds move south, they attract a lot of attention.  The opportunity to see this beautiful bird, and get that perfect picture, attracts numerous birders and photographers to country sideroads and it turns out that Clearview is one of the best locations to spot these visitors (birds and birders!) in the region.