This snowy owl was spotted in Langley during the Dec. 30 bird count. Photo by Bob Puls

Rare bird spotted in Lower Mainland

Snowy owl usually seen in the Arctic tundra

It is one of only two or three snowy owls spotted in the Lower Mainland during all of 2017, and it was observed just before the year ended in Langley during the Dec. 30 annual Christmas Bird Count (CBC).

The owl would likely have been missed if it wasn’t for some crows that were “mobbing” the owl high up in a tree along 200 Street, said LFN member John Gordon.

The Langley Field Naturalists (LFN) are not saying exactly where the discovery was made because owl are “sensitive to disturbances” Gordon said.

The snowy owls usually make their homes north of 60° latitude in the Arctic tundra, in Alaska, the Yukon, Northwest Territories, Nunavut and Eurasia.

The regal-looking bird is the largest (by weight) North American owl. It spends summers far north of the Arctic Circle hunting lemmings, ptarmigan, and other prey.

But it is a nomadic bird, and population fluctuations in its prey species can force it to relocate.

The owls have been reported as far south as the American Gulf Coast states, Hawaii, southernmost Russia, and northern China.

The annual count was organized by the White Rock and Langley Naturalist Clubs, along with the LFN and other conservation groups in the region.

Langley area group leader Mike Klotz said the local count was a “tremendous success … the one with the most interesting finds for the day.”

The weather conditions were considerably better than they were during the 2016 count, when 21 people who braved the well-below-freezing temperatures to count more than 4,000 birds and 61 species.

READ MORE: Birders brave the cold for annual Christmas count

The counts are used to study the health of local winter bird populations.

White Rock and Surrey are divided into many sections. Data collected during the Langley/White Rock count includes details on the number of birds of each species seen or heard within a local 24-km diameter circle. Surveying this circle year-after-year contributes valuable long-term information on how winter birds are faring, both locally and across the country.

During last year’s count in Canada, over 3 million birds and 278 species were counted by 14,000 participants in 447 counts across the country.

READ MORE: Counting birds in Langley



dan.ferguson@langleytimes.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

In Education: Failing forward toward success

‘Merely a stepping stone which strengthens.’

Trio join Maple Ridge secondary’s Mighty 300 Club

Many have tried, few have succeeded

Helper offers assistance to hit-and-run victim’s daughter

Grief counsellor holding bake sale to raise funds for family

Two Ramblers medal at national championships

Maple Ridge’s Ryan Hicks takes gold and silver at wrestling nationals

Lt.-Gov. Guichon believes she made the right decision in last B.C. election

Outgoing Lt.-Gov Judith Guichon said her most memorable moments weren’t surrounding the election

16 of 20 fastest improving B.C. schools are public: Fraser Institute

Independent elementary schools remain at top of the chart in think tank’s annual report card

Police probe cause after skateboarder dies in collision with semi-truck

New Westminster police say its not certain whether the skateboarder was in crosswalk or near it

NAFTA: Talks continue through weekend in scramble to get a deal

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland called negotiations ‘perpetual’

Pulp mill fined $900,000 for leaking effluent into B.C. lake

Mackenzie Pulp Mill pleaded guilty to depositing deleterious substance into water frequented by fish

B.C.’s 2-year lobbying ban starts May 1

Office of the Registrar of Lobbyists can grant exemptions from the prohibition if public interest

Horgan speaks of government’s successes to ‘friends’ at CUPE BC convention

CUPE BC president Paul Faoro said was first time a B.C. premier addressed convention in some time

Speed Skating Canada fires coach Michael Crowe after investigation

Crowe was a coach on the American team from 1983 to 1991 and again from 1999 to 2006

5 things to know about the ongoing influx of asylum seekers in Canada

Number of illegal border crossings are up this year – as RCMP, military, politicians try to combat

Most Read