A labrador kayaker is being hailed as a hero after saving a distressed snowy owl from being dive-bombed by ravens.

Billy Gauthier was out for a paddle on Little Lake near Labrador’s North West River when a surprise owl swooped down beside him, narrowly missing him.

“[It] really came quite close to me, actually. I was quite startled at first,” Gauthier said.

He then noticed a group of Ravens, chasing closely behind the owl, dive-bombing it repeatedly. He knew he needed to so something—and fast.

He and a fellow kayaker paddled towards the owl to see how they could assist. The owl was now bobbing in the cold water and didn’t appear to be fending off its attackers, he said.

“We took off to rescue him but it took 10 minutes to get to the owl. I lifted him with my paddle and moved him close to the bow of my kayak. He caught hold of the grab lines and pulled himself up.”

kayaker lifts snowy owl with his paddle and pulls him closer
Gauthier says he will never forget the bird’s piercing yellow eyes. Photo: Billy Gauthier / Facebook

The exhausted and waterlogged owl sat there for 15 minutes on the bow of Gauthier’s kayak, too drained of energy to move. During that time, Gauthier and his partner decided to get the bird to shore.

In total, the bird was with the kayakers for a full 30 minutes.

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“About 20 yards from shore he jumped off the bow and flew to a stump. He stayed there for another hour before he flew off,” said Gauthier.

The bird was later found by wildlife officers and taken in for an evaluation. On closer inspection, it appeared that the bird was in fact a female, not a male as Gauthier at first believed. “She’s in safe hands now, hopefully, she’ll completely recover,” said Gauthier.


  1. ‘Hailed as a hero?’ Seriously? Doesn’t take much these days. An alternate title here could easily be ‘Kayaker disrupts natural selection to thwart ravens attempt at protecting their young.’


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