Snowy Owl

Bubo scandiacus

Order

STRIGIFORMES

Family

True Owls (Strigidae)

Code 4

SNOW

Code 6

BUBSCA

ITIS

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Breeding Location:

Seashore, rocky or sandy, Open landscapes, Marshes, freshwater, Swamps



Breeding Type:

Monogamous



Breeding Population:

Fairly common on breeding grounds



Egg Color:

White, nest stained



Number of Eggs:

3 - 11



Incubation Days:

31 - 34



Egg Incubator:

Both sexes



Nest Material:

Simple depression, unlined or minimally lined with moss, lichen, and plucked grass.



Migration:

Irregular



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General

Snowy Owl: Large, white owl with variable black bars and spots. Head is round and without tufts, eyes are yellow, and bill is black. Female and juvenile are more heavily marked with black.

Range and Habitat

Snowy Owl: Found mainly in the tundra of North America; winters south to the northern U.S., sometimes driven by search for food as far south as Oklahoma, northern Alabama, and central California. Preferred habitats include lakeshores, marine coastlines, and marshes; may roost on buildings in cities and towns.

Breeding and Nesting

Snowy Owl: Three to eleven white eggs are laid in a ground nest on top of an elevated rise, mound, or boulder. May not nest during years when lemming numbers are low. Eggs are incubated for 31 to 34 days.

Foraging and Feeding

Snowy Owl: Feeds mainly on lemmings and voles, but takes whatever food is available. Usually hunts from an elevated perch during the day. Prey is captured on the ground, in the air, or snatched off the water surface.

Vocalization

Snowy Owl: Male makes a loud, booming "hoo, hoo" given as a territorial advertisement or mating call; female rarely hoots. Attack call is a guttural "krufff-guh-guh-guk"; when excited emits a loud "hooo-uh, hooo-uh, hooo-uh, wuh-wuh-wuh." Other sounds include dog-like barks, rattling cackles, shrieks, hissing, and bill snapping.

Similar Species

Snowy Owl: Barn Owl has brown eyes, pale bill, brown-tinged back, and heart-shaped facial disk. Short-Eared Owl is smaller and browner.

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