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

Canada's Wonderland is launching a new winter festival

New ride at Canada's Wonderland will be the most epic dive coaster ever

These sprawling sand dunes near Toronto are a natural wonder

Toronto found another sunflower farm to take epic photos

10 secret things you might not know existed in Toronto

21 fun day trips to take from Toronto before summer is over

Rafael Nadal is in Toronto and fans can't get enough

This hiking trail near Toronto comes with 99 steps