Snowy Owl

Bubo scandiacus

Graceful White Hunter

Snowy Owls are by far one of the easiest birds of prey to recognize. This has a lot to do with the fact that males are totally white (females and juveniles are barred brown and mimic the ground of the arctic tundra). They are also one of the most graceful birds, swooping to catch lemurs in the arctic tundra.

Species Description

Size: 20 to 27 inches
Weight: 59 to 70 ounces (3.5 to 4.5 pounds)
Niche/Habitat: It is often believed that Snowy Owls, like other owls, live in trees. However, these are one of the few owls that breed on the ground in the arctic tundra. In the winter they fly to more southerly locations whereby they gather in coastal and agricultural regions. Not all Snowy Owls migrate, but there have been reports of some traveling as far south as the Caribbean.
Natural History: Snowy Owls begin as a small egg. They have a 32-day incubation inside their shell before emerging. Upon hatching, it takes about 50 to 60 days to fledge (fly) from the nest. Juveniles are more likely to migrate south than adults. In the spring, around May and June, the Snowy Owls begin their breeding season.
Food Habits: The primary food of the Snowy Owl is voles and lemmings, but they are able to capture rabbits, hares, geese, ducks, ptarmigan, and mice. One study showed that Snowy Owls are often found feeding in and around airports where the vole populations are naturally higher.

Useful Snowy Owl Links

The Owl Research Institute
A free video about Snowy Owls by Elliot Kennerson
Snowy Owl page on
Snowy Owl Description

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Written by Rob Nelson

Rob is an ecologist from the University of Hawaii. He is the co-creator and director of Untamed Science. His goal is to create videos and content that are entertaining, accurate, and educational. When he's not making science content, he races whitewater kayaks and works on Stone Age Man.

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