Birders say a small owl, native to Florida, has been discovered in Nova Scotia for the first time.

The rare burrowing owl is listed as a species of special concern in Florida.

A shot of the bird with its piercing yellow eyes and spotted plumage recently appeared in the middle of a half-hour Land and Sea documentary about Nova Scotia islands that aired on CBC Television.

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The owl may have hitched a ride to Halifax on a ship, but a more probable explanation is the critter was blown this way during a storm last fall. (Courtesy of Tell Tale Productions)

The footage was shot by Tell Tale Productions last October on McNabs Island at the mouth of Halifax Harbour.

An eagle-eyed birder from P.E.I. watching the February Land and Sea program recognized the owl as an unusual visitor.

The Nova Scotia Bird Society did some checking and it turned out that the owl was a long way from home.

"The colour of the bird is a darker brown, which indicates an eastern species and the only place [that they would breed] on the east coast of North America is Florida," said David Currie, president of the Nova Scotia Bird Society.

Currie said the feathers suggest the owl hatched last year.

It's not clear if it's male or female.

The owl may have hitched a ride to Halifax on a ship, but a more probable explanation is the critter was blown this way during a storm last fall.

No burrowing owl sightings have been reported since.

"We checked out all the bunkers that we could get into in Fort McNab and of course the bird wasn't there, not surprising. But we did check out and see what type of fence posts it may have been sitting on and we photographed a few of those so we know it was certainly here, there's no question about it," said Currie.

"He may not have found his way back and he may have met his demise over there, we really don't know. He could be in another bunker that I couldn't get into, who knows. We can always hope."

This would not be the first time a bird ended up off-course in the Maritimes. Last fall a wayward American white pelican was spotted on P.E.I. Then in December, a yellow-throated warbler was spotted on central P.E.I.