Name that mystery Christmas animal…

It’s time for a little game I like to call, Name that mystery animal!!

The following three images were captured Christmas Day on one of my trail cameras.

A forth image shows a zoomed-in close-up look.

The animal in the pictures is a critter I have photographed only a small number of times over the years.

Can you guess what it is??












35 thoughts on “Name that mystery Christmas animal…”

  1. Looks like a flying squirrel to me.I had one living in my attic one winter. I could watch him at dusk come out, climb my t.v. antenna and use it to ‘fly’ over into the bush.

  2. It looks like a flying squirrel to me. They are fascinating little creatures — much cuter than regular squirrels They used to come on our deck at the cottage many years ago, usually in the winter. We used to feed them. Don’t see them that much any more.

  3. Outdoors Guy, I have an unusual wildlife sighting to report. I was walking my dog at 6:00 am in my neighbourhood in the west end of Ottawa and saw a Snowy Owl. He flew right over my head. It was pretty amazing to see.

    1. OK Hunting Mom, that is both very exciting..and ironic!

      This am as I left the house around 6:30, I could hear an owl ‘hooting’ from direction of a big white pine in my back field. (Not far from where my mystery animal was photographed) It was not a great-horned owl call, and definitely not a Barred owl. From the research I found on owl sounds this am online, I believe it was a snowy owl call. Never seen one or heard one before!!

      Wow, isn’t that neat that we both had snowy owls near us at almost the same time this am..on different ends of town! I wonder why they are around town this winter? I know Great Greys sometimes stage in this region but I didn’t realize snowy owls were here.

      Very impressive to say the least!

      Rick P is an expert on owls/birds of prey..hopefully he can stop-by to shed a bit more light on our sightings/hearings.


  4. It has been an extraordinary good year for seeing Snowy Owls in Eastern Ontario. We are in the midst of one of the biggest movements in decades. It has been estimates upwards of 130 Snowies have been recorded in Eastern Ontario so far this winter. Many have passed through.

    Newfoundland had an exceptional 300+ on a one day count in early December.

    Snowies have reached as far south as the Carolinas with one reported in Bermuda this year.

    We have had several in Barrhvaven feasting on our cottontails.

    The pictures of the Flying Squirrels are to quote a scribe I know “Kewl.”

    1. Awesome Rick..tks so much for the great owl information! If I recall, last winter you educated me on the Barred owl I had roasting in my pine tree.

      I will keep my eyes peeled in the back field with hopes of catching a glimpse of our magnificent white visitor!!

      Yeah..the flying squirrel is definitely what I would describe as ‘kewl’ and, as Hunting Mom and Bob M pointed out, they are certainly cuter and more intriguing than your run-of-the-mill grey or red squirrel. I suspect that this guy may be spending the winter in the loft of my garage and I would sure like to see him launching and gliding across in the trees.

      I can recall being very sad when Dad and I would catch a flying squirrel, by accident, in our fisher sets. I don’t know if they are considered omnivores or carnivores, but they certainly do eat meat unlike their pesky red and grey cousins!

      Thanks again Rick…and please stop-by any time.


  5. with all this werid sightings.. was watching the news down here and they were talking about the bald eagles have some sort of virus or disease. So far they have 16 blood samples that have been sent off to the lab for testing … they have 5 now that are bieng brought back to health. If they have 16 sick birds they have found, how many more are out there?

    1. chessy, that sounds very disconcerting for the eagle population. Hopefully they come up with answers soon.


  6. I have a Barred Owl that Rick P stuffed, it had starved to death, neat little bird, rick does a great job on birds. I also photographed some of the Great Grey’s that came south to Ottawa last year. I would love to get a Snowy Owl, but that would mean one would have to die so maybe I’ll just have to get pictures, and that’s fine too. Something fascinating about Owls
    Went to the cottage on the Quebec side today, lots of snow, saw three deer and their bellies were rubbing on the snow. Could be a really tough winter for them if this snow keeps up

    1. Speaking of freak animal encounters…my condolences go out to family and friends of Roy Khabbaz, who was killed Christmas day in a freak accident just outside of Kemptville.

      A deer crossing the highway was clipped by another car sending it flying through the air; right through the windshield of the 31-year old man’s Honda. Two other occupants in Khabbaz’s car survived.

      You may recall a similar accident a couple of summers ago on the 148 near Aylmer, when a 300 pound black bear was hit by a car, sending it hurling through the air right through an oncoming car’s windshield. Both people in that car were killed instantly.


    2. Iggy, I remember those great grey owl pics you sent me…neat. Did you ever send a photo of the owl?

      Yes, I’m hoping the snow doesnt get too deep this winter…the herd is on the rebound nicely.


  7. Would it be wrong for me to put some food out to attract the snowy owl? I’m thinking of maybe some raw meat. Everyone has bird feeders, why not something for the snowy owl? My husband and kids think I am crazy….

    1. Hunting Mom, unfortunately I don’t think that’d work since they only go for live prey, but again I’m no expert.

      Rick, if you’re still around…anything we can do to ‘attract’ snownies?


  8. Last year the professional photographers were bringing live mice and letting them go in the snow right below the owls, the owl would swoop out of the trees and grab the mouse, and the photographer would get great close up pictures. A lot of the birders didn’t think much of this but they were still hunting, for food they eat, and it probably helped some of them survive the winter

    I’ll find a picture of my birds that rick has done, and they are all accompanied by a letter from the MNR saying they were checked and I’m allowed to have them. just in case anyone gets any weird ideas

    1. Iggy, not sure if I told you last winter, but I know one of those photogs..and he actually took a lot of heat over the mouse release thing. Apparently the animal rights people found out about it, and convinced several land owners not to allow him on their property to photograph owls anymore.


  9. I used to work at the experimental farm in Ottawa. We kept geese in shelters year round where they could go in to warm up or go outside as they saw fit. As each one is fitted with its own goose down coverall they rarely if ever went in! Which brings me to snowy owls.
    Not every winter but occasionally one would show up,probably to look for mice around the barns. However one winter a large male had bigger plans.It seems he knew he couldn’t kill a large goose by frontal attack so he found if he landed in the enclosure and hopped back and forth with his wings spread out he could herd the geese into a fence corner.He would keep pressing them until (because they were very afraid of him,and not very bright)they would pile up on top of one another. He would keep them there for several minutes, which usually resulted in one or two smothering in the crush,then he would back off and when they unpiled he would move in and have supper. Snowy owls hunt during the day, and he was observed by several people on more than one occasion.He would not return to a cold kill the next day ,he wanted fresh.

    1. Bob m, seems you had some great first-hand accounts of wildlife while working at the experimental farm..that’s really kewl!

      They sound like very accomplished hunters..and I guess you confirm my theory about putting out raw meat to draw them in.

      Hunting mom, I would suggest geese as a viable bait for snowy owls..just kidding animal rights people if you listening..hehe


  10. There are two species of flying squirrels found in the Ottawa valley. We have both northern and southern flying squirrel populations here, though the northern variety is more abundant.

    1. fishr, is it correct that the ‘skin flaps’ of the southern variety are much more expansive than those found on the northern ones, allowing the southern flying squirrels the ability to glide a lot further? I remember in college seeing images of both side by side and noting how the flaps or wings on the southern ones cover a much wider area.

      Also didn’t realize we had any of the southern ones in this region, has there been any confirmed sightings? Also seems to be little research or info on these animals which is unfortunate since they are quite special indeed. I think I’ve captured images of flying squirrels only 4 times over the past 14 years living here and always on the same camera. Of course this trailcam monitors a bottleneck trail between two fields, prob not an idea location to see flying squirrels.

      Thanks for the info fishr, I look forward to my next know, I’ve only ever seen one ‘flying’ one time…and that was in the Laurentians on our road into the hunt camp. One flew across the road in front of my truck..going from tree to tree…he must have glided 50-60 feet at least!

      P.S. That fisher I photographed last winter for the first time is all over the place now..I have several pics of him on three different cameras. I can tell that its the same one, a small female looks like.

    1. Ok Hunting mom, don’t use your neighbours as bait then try something else..hehe..just kidding.


  11. I don’t really know what to think of live bait, they are still hunting, they are still killing their own food, it’s not going to change them, like it would a lion or a tiger being given dead meat and not having to hunt it themselves.

    1. Iggy, I believe the animal rights people had issue with photographers using store-bought mice to release for the owls to catch. Also think some of the stores caught-on when they’d buy 10-20 mice at a time.

      But don’t large snake owners use ‘feeder mice’ bought from pet stores? Wouldn’t that be the same thing?


      1. OK fishr, to complicate matters further…it seems the southern flying squirrels are now mating with the northern flying squirrels in Canada, creating a new Hybrid species. It would appear that the southern variety have expanded greatly into our area, so who knows what kind of flying squirrels I have photographed over the years. And you’re right, size seems to be the biggest difference, although the skin flap or ‘patagium’ which extends between front and back legs appears slightly larger in the southern variety. They have been known to glide upwards of 300 feet.


  12. today in the paper, ( a shame it’s not on line) in the Sun is a story about Coons
    There is a lot of misinformation and questionable information
    From The Ontario Hunting forum comes this post

    New highs were achieved for Fisher, Prices increased 50% to 70% over February 2012 levels. The average price was $156.67 with the Top Lot sold for $350.00

    Over 400,000 Raccoon sold 100% at an overall average of $31.20, compared to $16.90 last year, an increase of over 80%

    His experts said about 25 dollars. that may not seem like a lot but percentage wise it is huge.
    His expert also claimed you could eat them, no thanks and I was of the understanding they has some kind of parasite.
    Then he gets quotes from the OSPCA (Humane Society and make no doubt, these people are anti hunters) who “encourage people to celebrate these wonderful animals.”
    finally he gets a quote from PETA, I won’t repeat what they said but you can imagine.
    These animals are rodents, try getting some in your attic, or have your pet Fido attacked by them. The cities are being over run by them. We don’t need people encouraging their proliferation! And for the first clown to come on here and tell me we moved into their territory, just remember, there are way more of them in this area now than before we got here, if we could get them back to the populations before we got here, I’d be happy.

    Stepping off my soapbox now

    1. Wow Iggs, those are amazing prices..and $30 ave for coons is incredible..although still not nearly enough compared to the work involved. Overall, these fur prices are a very encouraging sign..almost wish I had time to trap again. Wonder how beaver fair in this first sale results?

      Speaking of coons, I just saw one 5 mins ago..sitting outside the barn door along Old Montreal Road..guess the warm weather brought him out…


  13. they don’t hibernate, the just hide when it’s really cold, and as soon as the weather warms up they are back
    as you can tell, there is no love lost between me and coons

    I’ll post the trappers whole post, some other prices as well. I found it rather interesting

  14. This is Matt’s full post and some interesting prices

    New highs were achieved for Fisher, Prices increased 50% to 70% over February 2012 levels. The average price was $156.67 with the Top Lot sold for $350.00

    Over 400,000 Raccoon sold 100% at an overall average of $31.20, compared to $16.90 last year, an increase of over 80%

    Muskrats advanced 10% over our very strong sale last February, with an average of $11.51. Again, China dominated in this important article. The Top Lot was sold for $54.00.

    160,000 Beavers sold 100% at an Eastern average of $37.73 and a Western Average of $31.03. Price averages declined 18% overall from last year’s February very high Beaver sale.

    Otters had a very strong sale, advancing over last year’s already high levels. The average price was $112.58 with the Top Lot sold for $260.00.

    Lynx sold under very strong competition with Russia, Greece and China all in the mix to buy. This resulted in a 40% increase over last February. Nearly all of the Lynx will be used for trimming. The average price was $194.44 with the Top Lot sold for $525.00.

    Lynx Cats produced new highs, with all major markets competing for this beautiful article, which is mostly used in the big sizes for trimming and the smaller sizes for garments. Greece and Russia dominated with good support from China. The average price for Westerns was $589.08 with the Top Lot sold for $3,000.00.

    Coyotes sold exceptionally well with Italy, Canada and China competing aggressively for all sections. Premiums were paid throughout for heavier, better quality Westerns, which averaged $93.98 with the Top Lot sold for $1,400.00.

    Red Foxes sold under strong competition with premiums paid for heavier goods, better colours. Again, China dominated with good support from Europe and Russia. The average price was $65.78 with the Top Lot sold for $340.00

    The sale concluded today with Grey Foxes, which sold 100% under good competition at advancing prices, primarily to the trim trade. Again, China dominated. The average price was $45.91 with the Top Lot sold for $68.00.


    1. Thanks Iggs for the fur prices…I will be including some of these numbers in my next Pembroke – Outdoors Column..


  15. morning jeff on sunday i was out for a bush walk to check out the activity and i observed what i thought was a huge snow goose when i got close enough i used my binos and it was a snowy owl it had been flying low over a cut corn field and came up with a small rodent it stopped and gobbled it up as fast as it killed it it had beautiful markings on it’s crown wish i had my camera it started to fly over the same area once again looking for another meal . i will try and get a pic of it new years day as it’s a day off to relax . or another way of saying only 8 months until hunting season, but don’t let the wife hear you say it . lol

    1. Hey Mike, sounds like you are one of the chosen few to see a snowy here…Ive still only heard the one near my place.


    1. Hey yukon Bob, good to hear from you stranger!

      If that was the spring camp I went on, I believe it was probably 1991. I don’t recall seeing any flying squirrels
      with Dirty Ted though…

      Hope all is well up there? Actually its probably warmer there than it is here.

      Keep the faith Bobby, and great to hear from you brother!

      Ever make it back to this part of the country? Formosa?? Best beer in all of Ontario..hehe


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