Traffic cameras aren’t really known for taking particularly interesting images of the local wildlife (or anything interesting for that matter), but as this jaw-dropping photo attests, sometimes the nature comes to you.

The image, one of three jaw-dropping frames captured on January 3, 2016, shows the owl in flight, spreading its white and black-spotted wings against a snowy backdrop. The photo was captured along highway 40 in western Montreal.

Credit: Transport Quebec

Barbara Frei, the director of the McGill Bird Observatory, told the CBC that it’s a young female that was probably looking for a place to perch:

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“I think they are attracted specifically to the highway because it has open, grassy fields nearby which is perfect for hunting their favourite prey, which is small rodents,” she said. “They like to get a good lay of the land and the high lamp posts or other posts that they can perch on while hunting just suits them perfectly.”

Frei says snowy owls breed north of the Arctic Circle, where they hunt in the summer.

“They’ll migrate to their ‘winter vacation,’ which can be all the way down to southern Canada, in the Montreal region or places in Ontario.”

Quebec transport minister Robert Poëti posted this tweet earlier today.

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Translated, the text reads: “Beautiful snowy owl taken by the road network surveillance cameras on the A-40 in western MTL.” Beautiful, indeed.

[CBC News]


Email the author at george@gizmodo.com and follow him at @dvorsky. Top image by Transport Quebec