Snowy Owl

A great many birds will move to the Arctic in the summer to breed there, but not many will live there year around. The Snowy Owl is one which will live in the tundra for the full year.

They stay in the arctic for all year round unless the food becomes hard to find and then they will move to Greenland or North America.

When Snowy Owls are fully grown they are almost pure white, except for black markings.
They are entirely covered in feathers, even their feet, which have thick padding to protect them from the snow and ice.

Snowy Owl
Snowy Owl

Snowy owls are possessed of amazing eye sight. They can view prey on the ground from an incredible height and silently glide down to capture it.

They have, like most other owls, very good night vision, however Snowy owls are both nocturnal and diurnal. They hunt at night, but also during the day. When the owl gets food it will either swallow it entirely whole or tear it rapidly into large pieces.

Female owls will usually lay between 5 and ten eggs. Because there are very few trees in this area of the world, her eggs are usually laid on the ground or on small rises called hummocks.

When the mother owl is breeding she stays on the nest the entire time until her eggs hatch and the little owls are born. The father owl brings food to the female and guards the nest. Little owls are ready to be on their own in just a few short months.

It takes about 8 weeks until they are feeding on their own and ready to leave the nest area.
Summers in the Arctic are very short so if they were unable to feed themselves they would not survive in this habitat.

Snowy owls are one of the largest owls, with a wingspan of up to five feet. They are white in summer, but in winter they will change to brown coloration with some dark striping.
Snowy Owls eat a great many arctic lemmings.

The population of the lemmings in an area will determine if they owls stay in the arctic or winter somewhere else. If there are a great many lemmings, the owl population will also increase that year.

If they are fewer the owls will leave the area and fly as far south as Washington and Oregon to find it. When the food becomes more plentiful in the arctic they return to that area.

Find out more about the Snowy Owl over at Wikipedia »


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