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Table of Contents
The snowy owl is a distinctive large white bird from the owl family. This type of owl is native to Arctic regions located in North America and parts of Eurasia.
See the fact file below for more information on the snowy owl or alternatively, you can download our 26-page Snowy Owl worksheet pack to utilize within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
- Scientific Name: Bubo scandiaca
- Common Name: Snowy owl
- Type: Bird
- Group Name: Solitary
- Diet: Carnivores
- Average Lifespan in the wild: 10 years
- Average Size: Body, 20 to 28 in
- Wingspan: 4.2 to 4.8 ft
- Average Weight: 3.5 to 6.5 lbs
- Conservation Status: Least concern
The Magnificent Snowy Owl
- The snowy owl (scientific name Bubo scandiaca) is also known as the Arctic owl, the polar owl, and the great white owl.
- Their average lifespan in the wild is 5 – 12 years, and longer in captivity.
- The snowy owl is one of the largest owls in the world.
- Male snowy owls measure from 20 – 25 in (52 to 64 cm) in length, with wingspans ranging from 3 ft 10 – to 5 ft 5 in (116 – 165 cm).
- Females are larger than the males measuring 21 to 28 in (54 to 71 cm), with wingspans from 4 ft 9 in – 6 ft 0 in (146 – 183 cm).
- The average weight of a snowy owl is 3.5 to 6.5 lbs (1.5 – 3 kg).
- Snowy owls are commonly found in the cold northern regions of Canada and arctic tundras found in Greenland, Russia, and Scandinavia. (Tundras are treeless regions where the climate is cold and windy, and rainfall minimal. Tundra lands are covered with snow for most of the year, but summer brings amazing bursts of wildflowers).
- With white feathers covering their whole body, snowy owls can blend in and survive in arctic surroundings easily.
- Unlike most owls, snowy owls have small, golden, round eyes.
- Aside from brilliant white feathers, they can be distinguished by their narrow, sparse brown bars and spots on their wings.
- Their toes and claws are also thickly covered with feathers.
- Snowy owls have short, strong, sharply pointed, dark-colored beaks.
- They are carnivores, meaning they prey on mammals like arctic hares, small rodents, birds, and lemmings. Unlike other meat-eating birds, snowy owls do not scavenge for food; they hunt and kill their prey.
- A male snowy owl has feathers that are whiter with fewer brown bars and spots along. Females, on the other hand, are larger in size and darker in color.
- Snowy owls have round bodies which can adapt to extremely cold climates. Their thick plumage, which can weigh up to 4 pounds, helps to maintain body heat.
- They have soft wings which enable silent flight when attacking prey.
- They are patient predators, flying up to 30 miles per hour, and prefer open spaces of land rather than the mountainous regions in the tundras.
- Snowy owls prefer to live alone except during breeding season.
- Unlike other species of owls, snowy owls have flexible necks that can rotate up to 270 degrees. This is their adaptation to having smaller eyes than common owls.
- They are diurnal, meaning active during both the day and night, especially at dusk and dawn (crepuscular).
- When hunting, they do the watch-and-wait technique using their highly developed sense of sight and hearing.
- Snowy owls conserve energy by doing short flights that are low to the ground.
- During winter in the northern hemisphere, snowy owls migrate as far as southern Scotland.
- They are more active during summer because their prey is in the breeding season and more easily available.
- Due to the high consumption of food like rodents, snowy owls naturally control the number of rodents in the Arctic tundra environment.
Reproduction and Young
- Snowy owls are monogamous, which means they mate for life.
- They are also extremely territorial during mating season in order to protect their eggs and hatchlings.
- During the breeding season, May to June, females lay between 3 and 11 eggs with an interval of 2-3 days between laying each egg.
- Clutch size varies depending on the availability of food that season.
- Eggs are laid in nests, usually built on the ground or around boulders.
- The eggs are incubated for +/- 32 days by the female while her mate feeds her.
- Chicks, called owlets, are helpless and blind when they hatch and are cared for and fed by their parents until about the age of 5 weeks.
- Snowy owl parents aggressively protect their nests and young against intruders such as wolves, gulls, and foxes.
- The first fledgling occurs around 35 days of age, and by 60 days, the young can fly and hunt on their own.
- They are fully independent by migration season, which is September to October.
- While males get whiter as they age, females retain their dark spots throughout their lives to camouflage for the next breeding season.
Other Snowy Facts
- Experts suggest that there are roughly 200,000 to 300,000 snowy owl living in the Arctic, of which almost half are located in North America.
- Arctic foxes, wolves, and wild dogs are among their few predators.
- The Snowy owl is the official bird of Quebec in Canada.
- The sudden and massive interest in snowy owls as pets is because of the Harry Potter novels by J.K. Rowling, and the subsequent movies. However, they have been known to do dive-bombs to attack humans.
- In Northern America, trapping and shooting of snowy owls in protected areas are prohibited. Despite having remote breeding areas away from human disturbances, climate change is among the greatest threat to the snowy owl population.
- Due to their unique appearance, snowy owls are hunted down by humans and then mounted as trophies. Moreover, some cultures eat their meat as a delicacy and use their feathers for clothing.
Snowy Owl Worksheets
This is a fantastic bundle that includes everything you need to know about snowy owls across 26 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Snowy Owl worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about the snowy owl which is a distinctive large white bird from the owl family. This type of owl is native to Arctic regions located in North America and parts of Eurasia.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Snowy Owl Facts
- Arctic Owl
- What an Owl Life
- Food Web
- Snowy Photo Off
- I am an Owl
- Owly Things
- Mapping Bubo Scandiacus
- Harry’s Pet
- The Ookpik
Frequently Asked Questions
When do snowy owls hunt?
Unlike most species of owl, snowy owls hunt during the day, especially in the summertime. They tend to be most active at dusk and dawn.
Do snowy owls mate for life?
Yes, snowy owls are monogamous and mate for life. Their nest, a simple scrape on the ground, is usually positioned in a raised area such as a hummock or boulder that provides a good lookout spot.
What are baby snowy owls called?
Newly hatched birds are called owlets. They are born blind and helpless and are dependent on their parents for feeding, care, and security.
How fast can snowy owls fly?
Adult snowy owls can reach speeds up to 46 mph (74 kph).
Is the snowy owl the biggest owl in America?
The snowy owl is very big, but the largest owl in North America is the Great Horned Owl (sometimes called the cat owl) which can be about 35 in (88 cm) tall with a wingspan of about 4.6 ft (1.4 mt)
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Link will appear as Snowy Owl Facts & Worksheets: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, September 27, 2018
Use With Any Curriculum
These worksheets have been specifically designed for use with any international curriculum. You can use these worksheets as-is, or edit them using Google Slides to make them more specific to your own student ability levels and curriculum standards.