A traffic camera above a Montreal freeway has taken stunning images of a snowy owl in flight.
The bird was captured mid-air by the CCTV camera at the intersection of Autoroute 40 and the Boulevard des Sources, in the West Island of Montreal, on the morning of 3 January.
Quebec transport minister Robert Poeti shared the photographs on Twitter and Facebook, prompting them to go viral.
— Epic Cosmos (@EpicCosmos) January 8, 2016
Magnifique harfang des neiges capté par les caméras de surveillance du réseau routier sur l’A-40 dans l’ouest de MTL pic.twitter.com/ivaKZDel9r
— Robert Poëti (@robertpoeti) January 7, 2016
In an interview with CBC paraphrased in all subsequent coverage of the photographs, McGill Bird Observatory director Barbara Frei speculated the bird was probably looking for a place to perch.
The images, though striking, are neither a “selfie” nor a “photobomb” as has been reported, as the bird did not take the photo itself nor appear in the background of a picture being taken of another party.
The Ministère des Transports du Québec streams all of its traffic cameras online, meaning you can watch for owls from the comfort of your own home; however, the image is refreshed only every five to seven minutes.
The snowy owl is an official symbol of Quebec and is protected from hunters in Canada, though birds are occasionally killed in collisions with cars, aeroplanes and utility lines.
Owls are symbolic of higher wisdom.