Snowy Owls Toronto

Snowy owls are Toronto's latest wildlife sensation

It's superb owl season in Southern Ontario, and snowies are all the rage right now.

In other words, Toronto is in the midst of a snowy owl boom – the first we've seen since 2013 – and a surge in the population of this stunning northern bird has prompted a surge in the number of wildlife photos coming out of our city right now.

Hogwarts has got nothing on the Leslie Spit, for real.

Bird watchers have been flocking to large, open parks like Downsview, Colonel Samuel Smith and Tommy Thompson (obviously) in growing numbers this year as news spreads that snowy owl sightings are way, way up.

"Southern Ontario has had a large influx of Snowy Owls this winter," wrote an organizer of the Toronto Nature Lovers meetup group in an owl expedition event. 

"That makes for an exceptional opportunity to see these wanderers from the arctic. It really is a special moment when you see a snowy owl, no matter if it's your first time or hundredth time."

Snowy outlook in Toronto #snowy #owl #toronto #cntower #tommythompsonpark

A post shared by Bruce Reeve (@brucekreeve) on

The Toronto Nature Lovers have had 75 snowy owl encounters this winter so far, according to the group, but many more sightings have been reported by independent birders on forums and photo sharing networks. 

Karen McDonald of the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority told CBC News this week that these booms, formally called owl "irruptions," often coincide with booms in prey – specifically lemmings, which have a cyclical population.

Snowy owls typically live in Arctic regions, where lemmings are an important source of food. A more stable food supply means more owl chicks. More owl chicks mean more adult owls.

McDonald said that while the owls typically lay three or four eggs, this past breeding season has seen nests containing eight or nine eggs each. 

Lucky us, right?

Lead photo by

Bruce Reeve


Join the conversation Load comments

Latest in Sports & Play

Raptors officially unveil new uniforms and announce Welcome Toronto home games

10 Christmas markets and holiday festivals near Toronto

Toronto Chair girl Marcella Zoia spotted courtside at Raptors game

The Toronto Maple Leafs just fired head coach Mike Babcock

Toronto Raptors City Edition jersey might have just been leaked but fans aren't loving it

There's a new skating rink in Toronto for live DJ skate nights this winter

Here's what both sides are saying about the Raptors championship ring controversy

Bianca Andreescu and Penny Oleksiak are Toronto's new favourite power-besties