Introduction - Snowy OwlThe Snowy Owl, who is the official bird of Quebec, Canada, is also known as the Snow Owl, Great White Owl and the Arctic Owl. It is actually a resident of the high Arctic tundra in places like Canada and Alaska but migrates south to the Boreal Forest to hunt during the winter months. It prefers open fields and marshes to wooded areas. What makes this owl an interesting animal is that the feathers have no pigment, which aids them in their habitat. On this page of Snowy Owl facts, you will find information on what they eat, how they survive, where they nest, and much more. This information is written for both kids and adults.
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Snowy Owl Basic Facts
- Snowy Owls are active and on the hunt both day and night. These diurnal birds are largely nomadic and often need to relocate to where food sources are more abundant.
- The lack of pigment, by design, in the owl's feathers helps them in two ways. The stark white color of the adult owl's feathers helps to camouflage it in a snowy environment. Because the feathers have no pigment, it also allows for more air flow, helping to insulate the bird from cold temperatures.
- As one of the largest types of owls, it is easy to recognize this large white bird. Its size in addition to its yellow eyes, black beak and heavily feathered stark white body give it a distinct look.
- Wolves and Arctic Foxes are the main threat to Snowy Owls, but they have to be careful of other types of predators that go after the eggs in their nests.
Snowy Owl Hunting and Prey Facts
- Although most of their diet consists of lemmings which are small rodents, they will search land, water and air for prey. Using their sharp talons, they can snatch fish from the water. Land prey includes small mammals like voles and deer mice to larger animals like prairie dos and raccoons.
- Small prey is eaten whole. Within a day or two, the birds produce and regurgitate pellets containing the indigestible parts of the prey including the feathers and bones.
- When hunting, Snowy Owls are very methodical and will use a sit and wait approach.
Snowy Owl Breeding Facts
- Unlike many birds, this owl prefers to nest on the ground. It will choose a place with as little snow as possible and optimal visibility. Mounds, boulders, and even old eagle nests are often chosen. To insulate the nest, they are lined with things like owl feather and vegetation.
- May is breeding season for the Snowy Owl. After using her talons to scrape a space for the eggs in the nest, the female will lay one egg every other day for several days.
- The normal clutch size varies from 5-8 eggs, but there are sometimes a few more or a few less depending on the availability of food. If food is exceptionally scarce, the owls may not breed that year at all.
- Both the males and the females are very territorial and protective of their babies. They may aggressively defend if at all possible, otherwise they may make calls or sounds such as a clapping sound, with their beaks.