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Snowy Owls: The Perfect Aerial Predator for the Arctic

snowyowls

The Silent, Tranquil, and Elusive Snowy Owl

Snowy Owls...they're elusive, secretive, and a silent predator. Only a handful of animals can exist in the frigid, bleak Arctic region. The Snowy Owl has adapted to this open, perilous environment perfectly.

Though the Snowy Owl is globally known, not much is known about their global population. Ongoing research will help tell more about these animals.

Be sure to add your sighting to the Guestbook at the bottom to document your Snowy Owl sighting! Intro photo of Snowy Owl by Fool on the Hill.

Snowy Owls - (Bubo Scandiacus, previously Nyctea Scandiaca)

Snowy Owls are a bird native to the unwelcoming, icy Arctic Tundra. In the months of warmer months of summer, these owls will stay within the Arctic Circle range. In the winter, the owls will migrate south to Canada, Russia, Greenland, Finland, Norway, France, and Scotland. They often visit the Great Plains of the Midwestern US. Some very rare cases documented migration in Florida, Texas, and internationally, South America and Bermuda. While venturing away from their home grounds, they typically will seek out areas similar to the Arctic tundra--wide open expanses, marshes, farms. Snowy Owls are seldom found in thick, tree-filled areas.

Snowy Owl in flight

These magnificent birds are typically white with brown markings, and bright yellow and black eyes. The male snowy owls are smaller and have fewer markings then their larger female counterparts, which can be substantially darker and larger.

In the distance...a duck. In the foreground...a hungry swooping Snowy Owl!

In the distance...a duck. In the foreground...a hungry swooping Snowy Owl!

In the distance...a duck. In the foreground...a hungry swooping Snowy Owl!

Once thought of by many as tuft-less owls, they have now been categorized in the same family as the Great Horned Owls. Though the snowy owls tufts (or ears, as some people may refer to them) are not always erect, they can be seen on occasion. You may be thinking this behavior these is related to hearing, but that doesn't seem to be true! However, they do seem to become erect when they get irritated.


Snowy Owls typically are around 23-26" and between 40-70 ounces. A banding system helps keep track of some Snowy Owls across the world, but there are only so many volunteers and workers to keep track of this! Since this bird is so secretive, this makes your first-hand accounts even more important.

Snowy Owl painting, Tundra Solitary Owl

Picture by doviende

It's not easy to see a snowy owl, especially if you don't live near their migratory areas. Be sure to describe any sightings you've had of Snowy Owls in our guestbook below, as well as voting here!

Snowy Owls in the Tundra

Snowy Owls in the Tundra

Snowy Owls in the Tundra

Based on their habitat, Snowy Owls are generally seen perched on the ground, resembling flat grassy tundra area. An interesting adaptation for snowy owls is related to there being no trees in the Arctic for roosting. Therefore a snowy owl, like all owls, must stay alert and is never truly in a deep sleep. Since they roost on the ground, this is a large factor in why they must remain so alert. Snowys are constantly moving their head, checking out their surroundings ensuring that there are no predators nearby that may be looking to prey on them.

Feathers

They also have small, super-fine feathers. These are so fine, in fact, that some people may think that it is fur. This helps give them the ability to withstand very cold temperatures. The feathers extend down the foot and toes of these birds to protect their feet from the icy grassland they call home. They have long pointed wings and hunt similar to falcons, taking prey on the wing.

Like Vice Grips!

Snowys have super-strong toes to catch and crush their prey...around 200 pounds of pressure per toe! They're fast, too, for an owl-- around 70 mph!

Here are more Snowy Owl links on the web!

  • Arctic Studies Center
    The Arctic Studies Center invites you to explore the history of northern peoples, cultures, and environments and the issues that matter to northern residents today.
  • The Owl Pages
    Owls have fascinated man from time immemorial - to some cultures they are symbols of wisdom, while to others they are harbingers of doom and death. Here, The Owl Pages sheds some light on these mysterious creatures...
  • Snowy Owls on Wikipedia
    The Snowy Owl (Bubo scandiacus) is a large owl of the typical owl family Strigidae. It is also known in North America as the Arctic Owl or the Great White Owl.
  • Pictures of Snowy Owls
    Check out SNOWIES, a short film (12 mins) about snowy owls by Elliot Kennerson that is free to view online for anybody. Denver Holt, one of Montana's foremost owl researchers, appears in the film. The film documents an unusually large congregation of

What do Snowy Owls Eat?

The range of diet for the Snowy

Snowy owls typically feed on lemmings, mice and rats, though it has been documented that they will prey on black ducks, Canadian Geese, short eared owls, American Kestrels, Starlings, Great Blue Herons, and even other Snowy Owls!

Snowy Owl Videos - See this majestic bird in flight!

Snowy Owl Satellite Tracking - Keeping track of Snowy Owls to learn more about this mysterious bird

There are currently several projects being conducted in the United States studying the migrating patterns and breeding habits of the snowy owls. Some researchers have started using satellite telemetry to track Snowy Owls. to track these beautiful creatures between their wintering grounds and their breeding grounds.

Not much is know about the global population of this species, so they are currently not labeled endangered. Satellite tracking will help us tell more about this elusive species. Snowy Owls are a federally protected species under the migratory bird act. See the links below for more information.

  • Satellite tracking of Norwegian Snowy Owls
    Snowy owls equipped with satellite transmitters in 1999 in Barrow, Alaska, crossed the Bering Strait the following autumn and spent the next summer along the Russian Arctic coast. One year later they were back in Arctic Canada! Due to the satellite t
  • Donate to the Snowy Owl Project
    Help get more satellite trackers on Snowy Owls so more can be learned about this elusive species! Visit this page, and be sure to specify "Snowy Owl Project" as the project you wish to support when donating!

Photo right: by Steve B.

Snowy owls breed in the Arctic Circle range, often in Alaska. Barrow, Alaska has been a huge Snowy breeding ground. In a lifetime, females will breed 1-9 chicks. If prey is scarce, they will not breed that year and wait it out until the next year. Eggs will be incubated in rotations to ensure different hatch times, therefore increasing the chance of survival. Snowys will have different mates each year, and do not mate for life.

A Snowy Owl from the backside gazing out on the open water for prey

A Snowy Owl from the backside gazing out on the open water for prey

A Snowy Owl from the backside gazing out on the open water for prey

With your $25 adotpion, you receive...

6" Tall Snowy Owl Plush

Personalized Certificate of Adoption

5x7 Snowy Owl Photo

Snowy Owl Fact Sheet

Click here to Adopt a Snowy Owl

Photo by hisgett

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The perfect lookout to spot the next meal for this Snowy Owl

The perfect lookout to spot the next meal for this Snowy Owl

The perfect lookout to spot the next meal for this Snowy Owl

Read up more on Snowy Owls with these Amazon books!

How can you Help the Snowy Owl?

Ways to help out the Snowy Owl...

Snowy Owls are so elusive that it's important to document sightings! This will help establish their range, where they are at certain points of the year, and ultimately, will help determine a global population. Spread the word about Snowy Owls and keep them educated! Please leave any Snowy Owl sightings in the Guestbook at the bottom of this page.

How Will Global Warming Affect Snowy Owls?

Loss of habitat due to rising sea levels will surely not be to Snowy Owls' advantage. Be sure to read the World Wildlife Federation's recommendations on stopping global warming.

Picture by Fool on the Hill

Help the Snowy Owls!

To help them, we need to learn more about them! Help by donating to the Snowy Owl Satellite Tracking Project!

Like Snowy Owls? Have you seen one and would like to share the experience? Help document them by telling us about your sightings! Just want to say hello? Drop a line here!

Do you have a Snowy Owl picture of your own you'd like featured here? Contact us and we can possibly include the picture along with a link to your page right here!


Snowy Owl by Paula Atwell by lakeerieartists

These informative owl guides, childrens books, and owl stories are some of the best ones out there on the Snowy Owl, as well as other owl species.

Authentic Bird Sound Plush Snowy Owl

Harry Potter Plush Hedwig Owl - Stands 8 inches tall - hurry while supplies last!

Have you Ever Seen a Snowy Owl? - Tell us about your encounter with this bird here!

anonymous on November 30, 2012:

The Snowy Owl is such a magnificent and beautiful creature. This lens was discovered because I just published a lens on the topic of global warming and it appeared under the "Explore Related Pages" section. It is certainly worthy of the Purple Star.

anonymous on September 23, 2012:

The Snowy Owl is my most favorite animal ever sense i was little, I've always loved them because they always blend in with stunning white snow. Plus their amazing yellow sharp eyes. The Snowy Owl is great animal to us, and I'm so happy we have them here on planet Earth.

MarcellaCarlton on June 21, 2012:

Beautiful bird and lens.

anonymous on April 15, 2012:

@anonymous: we found a dead snowy owl the other day beside the railway tracks here in clearwater ....it had blue paint on its feathers and one claw....

anonymous on April 05, 2012:

A snowy white owl was spotted at the Northwest Angle in Minnesota (Lake-of-the-Woods). The date was April 4th and 5th, 2012. The owl had a green tag on the right wing --- # 64. Bob Nunn - Angle Inlet, MN. 56711

Tolovaj Publishing House from Ljubljana on March 11, 2012:

They are beautiful creatures. I am fan of owls for many years now but haven't seen snowy owl yet.

anonymous on March 01, 2012:

Saw a snowy Owl in Glenday Oregon about 1970...in June in the middle of a snowstorm....driving to work early in the morning. Very distinctive bird...nothing like it native to the area (mountains) Glenday is about 5 miles from the I-5 freeway. I have heard of other sightings in Eugene Oregon but have no details (north of Glendale). That winter had weeks of sleet and freezing temps, lots of snow & ice although it had let up the month or two before the storm.....but it droped about 5 inches as I recall....

anonymous on February 10, 2012:

We saw many snowy owls in Ocean Shores washington at Damon Point this morning.

anonymous on February 04, 2012:

Snowy owl viewed from Nisqually Reach Nature Center 2/3/12 in Washington State. Huge bird easily see with the eye. Deep wings, full body and rounded head. Very white with some grey. Wingspan very broad from tip to tip. Awesome sight!

anonymous on January 30, 2012:

Returning with a blessing....hopefully it will help keep the Snowy Owls safer as they are at such risk as they are dropping there range this year with a mass migration to the northern United States. It was a treat to see this excellence once again!

norma-holt on January 27, 2012:

What a magnificent creature and you have done a remarkable job with this lens. Blessed and featured on Blessed by Skiesgreen 2012 and also on Save Planet Earth.

Laraine Sims from Lake Country, B.C. on December 17, 2011:

I enjoyed this lens so much that I came back to bless it. The amazing big horned owls live here where I live. I was fortune enough to see a Snowy Owl one winter. I almost missed seeing it because it blended in with the snowy landscape. Blessed by this angel.

Alexandra Douglas from Florida on December 10, 2011:

Beautiful bird and amazing lens! Thank you for sharing

anonymous on November 20, 2011:

Spotted a Snowy Owl with a wood rat on the Key Peninsula in Washington State 19 Nov 2011

anonymous on November 15, 2011:

11-14-2011: We saw a snowy owl perched on a mailbox on Neebish Island , which is in Michigan's UP. It was amazing. We were driving by, saw it, backed up to look at it again and possibly get a picture and it flew away . Wow!

anonymous on October 22, 2011:

Great INFO FOR MY SNOWY OWL PROJECT!!!!

SaintFrantic on October 17, 2011:

Mighty Bird.Thanks for sharing

ColorPetGifts on June 08, 2011:

Lovely lens - really enjoyed these owl pictures - have never seen one in person!

bernie74 lm on May 31, 2011:

What a beautiful owl, and a fantastic lens, thanks for sharing

Sensitive Fern on May 30, 2011:

I'd love to see a snowy owl sometime! I don't think they come to east central Iowa, though. *Blessed and listed on my Creative Squid blog.

JanieceTobey on April 19, 2011:

Wow, you have some really gorgeous Snowy Owl photos!!

pheonix76 from WNY on April 08, 2011:

Beautiful and informative lens!! I live in Western NY (Rochester area) and snowy owls sometimes come down here in search of a meal. One was in the area last week, but unfortunately I was not able to go and look for it. Cheers!

SandyPeaks on April 01, 2011:

Great lens! Never seen one in the wild, but have been close to them at falconry displays. Their feathers are beautiful! Blessed by an All Fools SquidAngel.

Cynthia Sylvestermouse from United States on April 01, 2011:

I love snowy owls! I have no idea how I missed this lens before, but in a way I am glad I did because today I can leave my April Blessings on this animal lens! Yes, I selected animals for my April 1 neighborhood. Imagine that! LOL

sukkran trichy from Trichy/Tamil Nadu on March 31, 2011:

i love that 'fool on the hill' pic. never seen a snowy owl in my lifetime. thanks for the beautiful pics and info. ~blessed~

anonymous on March 27, 2011:

I had never seen a Snowy Owl prior to this winter, but starting before Christmas I feel almost as if I am followed by them. I work a swing shift and am drive home often about 2am. I find myself keeping an eye out and seeing them sometimes multiple times a week. What a sight they are! I live in Washington State and have heard that they seem to disappear after about mid March in our region. I'll miss their company on the drive home and am looking forward to next winter, when hopefully, we can meet again!

everythingsbaby on March 21, 2011:

This is so beautiful, very well organized lens.

anonymous on March 14, 2011:

Fascinating lens. Thank you for a look at this beautiful creature.

anonymous on March 10, 2011:

Such a beautiful lens on owls, the photographs are feast to eyes and reading the lens is satisfying. Perfect tribute to the white beauties - the snowy owls.

LissaKlar LM on March 09, 2011:

These are some beautiful pictures! The only snowy owl I've ever spotted is Hedwig! I don't live close to a place where I could see one but I think they are magnificent and I appreciate your pictures and all the information. I found this lens because it was featured on the SquidBlog. Congratulations on that and your purple star:)

capriliz lm on March 09, 2011:

What a beautiful creature! You have a wonderful collection of photos that show how magnificent the Snowy Owl really is. Congratulations on your purple star.

Mary from Chicago area on March 09, 2011:

Gorgeous animals!!

JeanJohnson LM on March 05, 2011:

The pictures you have are very nice, they are cute. So many amazing creatures.

LOLteez on February 17, 2011:

SO BEAUTIFUL! Lensrolled to Owl Shirts and Gifts.

Missmerfaery444 on February 03, 2011:

I love all owls but the Snowy is my favourite. Beautiful lens! Blessed by a MerAngel

anonymous on January 16, 2011:

We would see Snowy Owls now and then in the winter at Kabetogama growing up but I haven't seen one now for many years ~ it is a thrill every time! You did the Snowy Owl proud here, beautiful!

Lorelei Cohen from Canada on December 31, 2010:

A beautiful portrayal of a magnificent bird. Best wishes in the New Year.

livingfrontiers on November 28, 2010:

Great Lens! I love all the pictures.

Mona from Iowa on November 16, 2010:

I love owls and snowy owls in particular are stunning. I've been wanting to paint one for awhile now but just got around to it. This has inspired me. :)

ScientificHomes on November 13, 2010:

What a beautiful lens!

JoyfulPamela2 from Pennsylvania, USA on October 11, 2010:

Snowy Owls are such beautiful creatures! Thanks for the wonderful pictures and information.

anonymous on September 18, 2010:

Ooooo, I love owls, and I love the images you've got on this lens! I've got a very large picture in my living room of a snowy owl ! :)

Jeanette from Australia on August 28, 2010:

What a fabulous lens and, no, I've never seen a snowy owl here in Australia.

anonymous on August 21, 2010:

I'll never forget seeing a Snowy Owl on the Buffalo, NY waterfront with my father. You could see that beautiful white male plumage 100 yards away. Unmistakable. I keep my eyes open in hopes of seeing another Snowy White Owl.

anonymous on May 01, 2010:

April 17, 2008 Jacksonville, FL â I was at the Rush Concert @ Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena when I stepped outside and saw quite distinctly a large snowy owl flying inland--it was breathtaking!

anonymous on December 19, 2009:

sooooooooooooooooo cute

natnickeep lm on November 03, 2009:

Love the lens! I love owls because my great grandma collected them. I made a lens devoted to her and owls. The snowy ones sure are beautiful, maybe when I vamp it up I will add some of them on there! 5* from me!

anonymous on October 15, 2009:

white owls are so pretty

religions7 on July 14, 2009:

Great lens - you've been blessed by a squidoo angel :)

Jennifer Sullivan from Chicago, IL on July 01, 2009:

I would love to see one someday... seems like I might have a chance in my neighbor state of Michigan?

Julia M S Pearce from Melbourne, Australia on July 01, 2009:

Fantastic lens just loved It! What a beautiful bird and I would love to see one oneday!

jaye3000 on June 30, 2009:

They're so beautiful~ I want one! :) Excellent job on your lens, five stars as usual lol :)

Margaret Schaut from Detroit on May 20, 2009:

I've long been a fan of your lenses, and your community work here at Squidoo, but I have to say this is one of my favorite pages! Be sure to add all your animal pages to the SquiZoo group! Blessed and the works!

anonymous on April 24, 2009:

What a beautiful lens. This family absolutely adores owls! I wonder if it may get even more traffic if you were to add a module about the most famous snowy owl in the world (as in Harry Potter)???

Blessed by an angel who would love to have wings like a snowy owl!

Kate Loving Shenk from Lancaster PA on April 20, 2009:

Believe it or not, I saw a Snowy Owl in Lancaster Pa--It flew at my window as I was speaking to my brother on the phone about my recently deceased mom, about 20 years ago. Gave me the thrill of my life.

Several weeks later I was pondering this experience and thinking about my mom when a book fell inexplicably off the bookshelf.

It was a bird book and was opened to the page about the Snowy Owl.

Great lens about a Mighty Powerful Bird.

anonymous on January 25, 2009:

A few years ago I saw a Snowy Owl peeping out of a large hole in a tree about 20 feet up from the ground. This was right in the middle of town on the hospital property near Fountain Lake. It was a beautiful sight to see. There are very nice pictures on this lens. You are doing a great job.

Kathryn Grace from San Francisco on January 24, 2009:

What beautiful images! I've never seen one, may never be near their habitat, and wouldn't want to see one in captivity, so thank you for this lens. Lovingly done, well-structured and written. Thank you, too, for including information and links about the effects of global warming.

anonymous on January 24, 2009:

I was fortunate to see two snowy owls on Assateague Island National Seashore last week and did capture a few images. If you are interested the photos can be seen at: www.kencongerphotography.com

Blue Skies!

Rich from Surrey, United Kingdom on January 19, 2009:

Beautiful creatures and equally beautiful photographs :) 5*s

Andrew Po on January 19, 2009:

Nice photos. Those snowy owls are really beautiful birds.

Paula Atwell from Cleveland, OH on January 19, 2009:

I have a watercolor painting that I did of a snowy owl. If you want a copy for this lens, let me know and I will send it to you. Love them.

Wendy Henderson from PA on January 18, 2009:

Very beautiful pictures. Loved it.

Debbie from England on January 17, 2009:

Beautiful lens abouit a beautiful creature 5 hooting stars for you!

julieannbrady on January 16, 2009:

I learned something new -- "Snowy owls typically feed on lemmings, mice and rats, though it has been documented that they will prey on black ducks, Canadian Geese, short eared owls, American Kestrels, Starlings, Great Blue Herons, and even other Snowy Owls!" OMG, I seriously had NO idea that they had such an appetite!!!

Linda Hoxie from Idaho on January 16, 2009:

Kiwi, those pictures are so beautiful, as are the snowy owls, very nicely done!

Patricia on January 16, 2009:

This is one of my favorite birds.

Ruth Coffee from Zionsville, Indiana on January 16, 2009:

Wow, the photos are great, such gorgeous birds.

Andy-Po on January 16, 2009:

Beautiful, interesting lens

HomeTowne_Market on January 16, 2009:

So Beautiful! Very informative and the pic were perfect. Great lens!

Mary Beth Granger from O'Fallon, Missouri, USA on January 11, 2009:

Ver interesting. Beautiful birds.

anonymous on December 10, 2008:

Hi, ou were just over to visit Tipi, so I followed you home and found that you have a bunch of topics I'm sure to enjoy. I have seen 5 Sowy Owls over the years. They are so magnificent that you never forget--my first one was when I was about 7 and I saw one last year--that is almost 50 years apart. Very nice lens you have here!

snaz lm on December 05, 2008:

Stunning, beautiful and stealthy creatures.

Living in the US, Northern Midwest (WI) I saw a magnificent Snowy Owl swoop, silently within feet overhead once as a teen.

It was an amazing experience that has stuck vividly in my memory.

It was a cold, moonlit winters night. Perfectly calm. Perfectly still...

dc64 lm on November 08, 2008:

Oh my gosh, they are so pretty! Thanks for the work you've put into this. Superb!

Crichtonslover on November 02, 2008:

Amazing creatures! I never thought a small bird like this could prey on Heron and Geese! Beautiful though. :)

K Linda on November 02, 2008:

Very nice lens! I have never seen a snowy owl, but they sure look beautiful from the photos. Thanks for your emphasis on conservation. 5*'s.

Yvonne L B from Covington, LA on October 30, 2008:

Fabulous lens. I have lensrolled it to Halloween - Why Cats, Bats.... Welcome to the Naturally Native Squids group. Don't forget to add your lens link to the appropriate plexo and vote for it.

Kiwisoutback (author) from Massachusetts on June 11, 2008:

They are predators to lemmings, small rodents, birds, even Arctic foxes. the predator of the snowy owl includes humans, a sneaky Arctic fox perhaps.

anonymous on June 05, 2008:

What is the snowy owl a predator to? hmm...i wonder...

anonymous on June 02, 2008:

We are doing a project on this. it is helpful

eccles1 on May 24, 2008:

How beautiful!!

anonymous on May 23, 2008:

Great lens, very informative, I really appreciate your effort.

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Laraine Sims from Lake Country, B.C. on May 19, 2008:

I live in the B.C. in the Okanagan Valley. A male snow owl killed a robin which I had been watching. It happened in early springtime last year. Boy, was he fast! That Robin didn't have a chance. I enjoyed your lens. 5 stars, favorite, fan and lensrolled to my lens.

NooNoo on April 20, 2008:

Great lens, very informative, thanks

John

Email Marketing Elite"

EliteClubs on April 17, 2008:

This lens is great, very informative, thank you.

Eliteclubs

Email Marketing Elite

Susan Deppner from Arkansas USA on April 17, 2008:

Beautiful birds! Very nice lens - I learned a lot!

dtbs on April 17, 2008:

such a beautiful bird! great lens! please check mine out at squidoo.com/dtbs

Evelyn Saenz from Royalton on March 28, 2008:

Though we are terrified to visit the Lemmings believe that you have done a great job on this lens and want to let you know that there is a new group being formed in Squidooville. It’s called A Walk in the Woods.

The exposure that your lens gets by joining will boost your lens rank and add to the number of web pages linking to your lens. Come take A Walk in the Woods.

ElizabethJeanAl on March 18, 2008:

Great Lens! I love studying the birds of prey, but the Snowy Owl is one I never expect to see.

Good Job!

EvieJewelry on March 18, 2008:

Terrific

wildrosetreasure on March 12, 2008:

Nice lens.

sisterra on March 12, 2008:

I love all of your lenses!

beesknees-23 on March 12, 2008:

Kiwi, another beautiful & immformative lens! Five paws up from Our Gang!!

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