The snowy owl is a unique animal native to the Arctic regions. One of the bird’s most striking features is important for its survival in the snowy habitat. The male owls have almost entirely white feathers. Older males are usually whiter. The female owls are usually darker and have white feathers covered in black or dark brown spots. Even their large talons are covered by white feathers. In addition to making it hard for their prey to see them coming, the feathers repel moisture and keep the owl warm in such a cold environment. If the winters get too harsh and there is not enough prey, the owls migrate to warmer areas south of the Arctic Circle. They have seen as far south as Oklahoma and Northern Alabama, though this is not a normal occurrence every year.
- Snowy owls are one of the largest owls, and they are the largest bird species in the Arctic.
- Females usually weigh about 3 1/2 pounds.
- Males are lighter and weigh closer to 3 pounds.
- They have yellow eyes.
- The average wingspan is almost 67 inches.
- Most owls are nocturnal, but the snowy owl is dinural, which means they are most active during the day.
- They are most active at dawn and dusk.
- They are carnivorous. Their diet is mainly mice and lemmings, but they will also eat rabbits, seabirds and fish.
- One owl can kill 1,600 lemmings in a year.
- Because lemmings are a major part of the owl’s diet, the owl population depends on how many lemmings there are in an area.
- Foxes, dogs, wolves and other large birds prey on the snowy owl.
- Humans are also dangerous. Snowy owls usually fly close to the ground, so many have died in accidents such as by being hit by a car, tangled in a fishing line or being accidentally shot by a hunter.
- Snowy owls are protected as an endangered bird.
- Like other owls, they have excellent eyesight. However, if their prey is under the snow, the owls have to rely on their incredible sense of hearing
- The average lifespan of a snowy owl is 9 years.