The Snowy Owl
A Snowy Owl is a fun bird to see while bird watching. Below are some tips to help you identify Snowy Owls. We have also put together a list of fun Snowy Owl t-shirts, Snowy Owl bird patches, birdhouses, bird feeders, binoculars, stickers, and other fun bird-watching items.
About Snowy Owls
Snowy Owls are the largest bird in North America by weight. They can make even those who are not bird watchers come out for a look. It shows up during the winter to hunt, which is irregular in the pattern. Most of the summer is spent in the Arctic Circle where they hunt under the 24-hour daylight.
Description and Identification
Snowy Owls are majestic white birds that are 20.7-25.2 inches long, with an average wingspan of 5
feet 3 inches. The white color of these owls is so pure that they are whiter in comparison to even
polar bears. Snowy Owls can easily camouflage in the snow. These birds have brown spots and bars
throughout their body. Female Snowy Owls have a lot more marking than males — these markings
begin to turn white as they age. Juveniles have even more bars and dusky brown spots than females. The entire body of Snowy Owls has covered with feathers and their eyes are yellow.
Snowy Owl Color Pattern
Snowy Owls are generally white birds with different markings of brown or black on their wings and body. Females have salt-and-pepper looks as their markings tend to be dense. Markings n males fade as they grow older. Both sexes have yellow cat-like eyes.
Snowy Owl Size
They are naturally large with smooth heads. They have dense feathers on their body and legs making them bulky. Measurements of both sexes are:
- Length 52-71 cm
- Weight 1600 – 2950 g
- Wingspan 126 – 145 cm
Snowy Owl Behavior
Snowy Owls spend hours perched usually looking for prey as they move their heads and blink to focus on something. They use incredible vision and hearing while hunting, they fly or run over and pounce on it. Once they capture their prey they eating their head first in one strong bite. Their courting displays are incredible with males rising into the air with strong wing beats holding a lemming in its bill or talons then drops in a V shape. It then drops the prey and lowers its head as the female approaches.
What Snowy Owls Eat
Snowy Owls are carnivores that mostly sustain small mammals such as mice and lemmings.
Waterfowl and ptarmigans also often find their way into the diet of these birds. These owls are very
agile and experienced in flight, as a result of which they can easily catch small birds on the fly.
Other sources of nutrition for these birds are seabirds, grebes, geese, wading birds, hares, rabbits,
rodents, weasels, and squirrels.
Their main source of nutrition is small mammals with lemmings topping the list. Being the most agile owl Snowy Owls are able to catch small birds in flight. Their diet can range from rodents to geese and other wading birds.
Snowy Owl Habitat
Open tundra is the most preferred habitat for snowy Owls. Unless there’s a major scarcity of food in
their tundra habitat, Snowy Owls in the northern part of their range prefer not to inhabit any other
areas. These owls can generally be sighted in elevations up to 1000 feet from the ground. Other
habitats these owls reside in are lowland salt meadows and freshwater meadows. These habitats
are ideal for hunting. In the southern part of their range, Snowy Owls can be found in urban
centers, villages, and marshes.
Snowy owls prefer treeless areas with enormous amounts of open space where they can sit next to the ground which makes it easier to hunt. They prefer Great Plains, airport fields, or beach dunes where they can get vantage points to survey their surroundings.
Range and Migration
Snowy Owls, also commonly known as polar owls are white owls native to the Arctic regions of the
Palearctic and North America. The breeding range of these birds is quite vast. Coastal Alaska,
northern Siberia, Russia, Greenland, and Canada are all part of their breeding range. During
winters, these birds migrate to regions such as northern China, central Russia, northern Europe,
Iceland, the British Isles, Canada, and the northern portion of the U.S. Although these birds are
typically residents of the Arctic region — they might travel southwards if there is a lack of food in
Snowy Owl Lifecycle
Female Snowy Owls choose the nesting site and build the nest. The female lays 3 to 11 eggs and incubates them for an outstanding 32 days. The owlets take a nesting period of 18 to 25 days before they fly out of the nest.
Snowy Owl Nesting
Snowy Owls are usually monogamous birds that might indulge in polygyny in the presence of
excessive food sources. These birds form pairs in their wintering grounds. Snowy Owls pairs
generally only last for one season. Male Snowy Owls court the females by performing elaborate
displays on the ground as well as in the air. After the pair is formed, the male chooses the nesting
territory and the female chooses the nesting sites. These nesting sites are usually on the ground,
or in close proximity to it. The female digs a bowl in the ground or turf and lays her eggs directly
into this shallow bowl. Female Snowy Owls are capable of laying up to 16 eggs in one season.
Each egg needs to be incubated for 32-34 days. Both parents provide care and nutrition to the
nestlings until they are ready to leave.
Bird Watching Academy & Camp Subscription Boxes
At Bird Watching Academy & Camp we help kids, youth, and adults get excited and involved in bird watching. We have several monthly subscription boxes that you can subscribe to. Our monthly subscription boxes help kids, youth, and adults learn about birds, bird watching, and bird conservation.
Bird Watching Binoculars for Identifying Snowy Owls
The most common types of bird-watching binoculars for viewing Snowy Owls are 8×21 binoculars and 10×42 binoculars. Bird Watching Academy & Camp sells really nice 8×21 binoculars and 10×42 binoculars. You can view and purchase them here.
Snowy Owl T-shirts
If you love the Snowy Owl you should purchase a Bird Watching Academy & Camp T-shirt. To help support bird conservation we donate 10 percent to bird conservation activities.
Snowy Owl Iron On Patches
Kids, Youth, and Adults love to collect our Bird Watching Academy & Camp iron-on patches. Our bird-watching patches help you keep track of the birds you have seen and identified. You can also display the patches on our Bird Watching Academy & Camp banners.
The Snowy Owl is a great iron-on patch to start your collection with. The patches are durable and can be sewn on or ironed on to just about anything.
Snowy Owl Stickers
Stickers are a great way for you to display your love for bird watching and the Snowy Owl. We sell a monthly subscription sticker pack. The sticker packs have 12 bird stickers. These sticker packs will help your kids learn new birds every month.
Bird Feeders For Snowy Owl
There are many types of bird feeders. Here are our favorite bird feeders for your backyard. We use all of these bird feeders currently. Kids will have a great time watching birds eat at these bird feeders. Using this collection of bird feeders will provide a wide variety and many types of birds.
Best Bird Houses for Snowy Owl
There are many types of birdhouses. Building a birdhouse is always fun but can be frustrating. These 4 birdhouses have become our favorites. Getting a birdhouse for kids to watch birds grow is always fun. We spent a little extra money on these birdhouses but they have been worth the higher price and look great.