Snowy Owl

Bubo scandiacus




Barn Owls, Typical Owls (Tytonidae & Strigidae)

Code 4


Code 6



Egg Color:

White, nest stained

Number of Eggs:

3 - 11

Incubation Days:

31 - 34

Egg Incubator:

Both sexes

Nest Location:

On raised site with good visibility.

Nest Material:

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





Snowy Owl: Large, white owl. The head is round and lacks tufts, eyes are yellow, and the bill is black. Feathered feet and toes provide protection from the arctic cold. Males are all- or almost-entirely white. Females and juvenile males are white with a variable amount of dark brown or black barring and spotting. Diet is varied and opportunistic, consisting of birds, mammals, carrion, even insects and crustaceans. Direct flap-and-glide flight with powerful, deep wingbeats.

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.


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.

Parts of a Standing bird X
Head Feathers and Markings X
Parts of a Flying bird X