20 to 28 inches
3.5 to 6.5 pounds
4.2 to 4.8 feet
Spending most of their time in the northern tundra, Snowy Owls prefer wide-open spaces with rolling terrain. Often sitting right on the ground to hunt, the Snowy Owl can easily find a vantage point on the higher elevations to survey their surroundings.
In the colder months, Snowy Owls migrate farther south and can be seen perched atop a fence post, hay bale, building, telephone pole, grain elevator or anywhere with a good view of a wide open space.
Snowy owls nest right on the ground. They prefer slight, windswept rises that will be dry and be clear of snow.
The female builds the nest starting by scraping out a shallow hole on the ground and then shaping it by seating her body in that hole. This process can take up to a few days and the owls may reuse the nest site for many years.
Snowy Owls typically eat small mammals. Their diet in the tundra consists mostly of lemmings, which at times may be all these birds eat.
In the colder months the Snowy Owl migrates further south and their diet expands greatly to include rodents, rabbits, hares, squirrels, and more.
At birth, the Snowy Owl hatchling is wet and blind. Within a few hours of birth the hatchling dries and becomes a little white fluff ball of downy feathers and within 5 days its eyes will open.
Being the exception to the rule, the Snowy Owl is the only bird of prey you can visually identify male and female. A mature male Snowy Owl is almost pure white while a mature female has dark markings (banding) covering their body.
Unlike most owls the Snowy Owl is diurnal. They’ll hunt at all hours during the continuous daylight of an Arctic summer.
Having thick feathers to keep them warm in the Arctic cold, the Snowy Owl is North America’s heaviest owl.
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