The snowy owl, scientific name Bubo scandiacus, also called the great white owl or Arctic owl is one of the most distinctive hen species on the planet.
Whilst you won’t discover them in all areas of the Arctic – they don’t exist in Svalbard as a result of lack of lemmings – snowy owls are seen within the polar areas of Eurasia and North America and are a possible customer throughout Greenland cruises.
The binomial species title, “scandiacus,” is derived from Scandinavia, as that is the place the hen was first found.
The snowy owl is the official hen of Quebec, and they’re a must-see for numerous hen watchers and naturalists.
Snowy owl bird: coloring, wingspan, size
The snowy owl is famous for its stunning white plumage and startling yellow eyes. The owlets (juvenile owls) hatch white.
Their first plumage is darkish gray and mottled to offer camouflage whereas they’re nonetheless within the nest. As they become old, they begin to develop their signature white plumage.
Grownup males are largely white however can have some darkish coloring on their wingtips.
Feminine snowy owls have an extra mottled look to offer camouflage for nesting on the bottom, and they’re additionally bigger than males.
Their beak and talons are black. Snowy owl eyes are proportionately smaller than most owl eyes are. In addition, they can not transfer their eyes, so they appear round by turning their heads.
Like all owls, snowy owls have a really versatile neck, which might rotate roughly 270 levels. Their wingspan is 1.2 – 1.5 meters (4 – 5 toes), they usually stand about .6 meters tall (2 toes).
The cruel tundra habitat of the snowy owl
Spanning the northern areas of Canada, Alaska, Europe, and Russia, the tundra is a habitat usually discovered north of 71.2 levels latitude.
The surroundings are chilly and dry, and it begins the place the taiga forest areas finish.
Timber doesn’t develop on the tundra, however, the habitat is wealthy in the grass, herbs, moss, lichens, and low shrubs. The bottom is rocky and exhausting with permafrost.
The snowy owl shares this extreme habitat with many species, such because the Arctic fox (Vulpes lagopus), Arctic hare (Lepus arcticus), reindeer (Rangifer tarandus), and polar bear (Ursus maritimus), to call a couple of.
Not fairly an evening owl
Because the snowy owl lives in a largely treeless surrounding, they will typically be noticed resting on the bottom or on pure perches, corresponding to mounds of rocks.
In settled areas, snowy owls can be seen perching on fences and buildings. Most of us know owls to be nocturnal (lively at evening), however, the snowy owl is definitely diurnal (lively through the day).
Extra particularly, they’re crepuscular, which suggests they’re most lively at daybreak and at nightfall.
The lone wolf of the bird world
Snowy owls are solitary besides through the breeding season when the male assists with nesting and chick-rearing.
Though they’re nomadic, snowy owls will develop into extremally territorial through the nesting and breeding season.
They aggressively push back intruders or some other predators that threaten their eggs or hatchlings.
Snowy owls breed in Could and June, and hatchlings will be seen over July and August. Solely the feminine sits on the eggs, and the male supplies meals for her whereas she incubates.
After snowy owl chicks are hatched, the male brings meals again to the nest, and the feminine feeds the chicks.
The chicks can be cared for by their mother and father for the primary 5 or 6 weeks, whereas they develop their plumage and be taught to fly and hunt.
The watch-and-wait trait of a snowy owl searching
Like all predatory birds, the snowy owl is a successful hunter.
The areas of the Arctic tundra are residence to the prolific and proverbial rodent, the lemming (Lemmus lemmus), and a spread of different small rodents, corresponding to voles and mice.
These are a staple within the snowy owl weight-reduction plan. Bigger prey gadgets embody the ptarmigan (Lagopus, a grouse-like hen), hares (Lepus), rabbits (Lagomorpha), and numerous species of geese and geese.
Looking is completed with a watch-and-wait approach. Snowy owls perch on an everyday lookout level and use their extremely tuned listening to and imaginative and prescient to find prey.
Their listening to is so good that they will even hear prey transferring beneath the snow. Snowy owl ears are asymmetrically positioned on their heads to help with pinpointing the supply of the sounds.
The feathers of the snowy owl are very comfortable, which helps muffle the sound of their method when searching.
Snowy owl Arctic adaptations
The Arctic tundra is a harsh surrounding, however, the snowy owl is effectively tailored to surviving and thriving within the chilly habitat.
They’re fairly round-bodied, which helps them keep their physique warmth, they usually have thick plumage.
Most birds have naked legs, however, the snowy owl has feathers masking its legs and toes to additional insulate it from the chilly.
Its ample coat helps make it one of many heaviest members of the owl household, with adults weighing roughly 1.eight kilos (Four kilos).
As a part of their survival approach to these harsh surroundings, snowy owls expend as little power as crucial.
Flights are brief and low to the bottom, they usually await prey versus flying and looking out.
A bird looking forward to snowy owls
In contrast to most of the predatory birds from hotter areas, snowy owls are nomadic. They don’t hold every day vary, as their prey will be fairly scarce and seasonable.
Throughout the northern hemisphere winter, they’ve been recognized to journey as far south as Scotland. Snowy owls are lively through the day and like climate that’s dry, with little wind.
Such predatory birds have common locations that they perch and scan for prey, so search for snowy owls in excessive areas like mounds, buildings, and fences.
Snowy owls don’t normally perch in timber. They’re extra lively and ample through the northern hemisphere summer when their prey is breeding.
Snowy owl facts
Traditionally the birds’ journey southward (well outdoors their regular vary) every 4 years or so. That is known as an irruption.
However, for a lot of causes, not all understood, snowies have been “irrupting” extra typically, and a few predict one other banner 12 months for Southern sightings.
Many birds of prey swallow their prey entirely. They digest the flesh, then regurgitate the bones and fur as a pellet.
Scientists can use these pellets to realize details about the owl’s weight-reduction plan and searching habits.
The snowy owl is taken into account susceptible by the IUCN (the Worldwide Union of Conservation for Nature).
Snowy owls play an important position in controlling the numbers of rodents within the Arctic tundra surroundings. One snowy owl can eat as much as 1600 rodents in 12 months.
The Harry Potter films have been chargeable for a sudden growth within the curiosity of snowy owls as pets.
Nevertheless, these birds are massive, robust, and have a fierce chew. This resulted in lots of snowy owls being deserted at animal facilities all over the world.
Bristles on their beaks assist them in sense close by objects. The beak (almost lined by facial feathers) is hooked and used for gripping prey and tearing flesh.
Needing insulation from Arctic temperatures, snowy owls have quite a lot of feathers. This makes them one of many heaviest owl species in North America.
Their toes are lined with feathers, like fluffy slippers. This enables ample insulation for the chilly Arctic local weather.
They swallow small prey entirely. Snowy owls will eat quite a lot of meals together with lemmings, Arctic hares, mice, geese, and seabirds.
Females stay with the younger, males carry the meals after which females feed it to the owlets.
Their wingspan is 4-5 toes on common. These highly effective wings assist them silently sneak up on or speed up after prey.
Male snowy owls are virtually utterly white, whereas females are white with darkish bars on her in any other case white plumage.
The Arctic summer forces snowy owls to hunt by daylight. In contrast to most owls which are nocturnal, snowy owls are diurnal.
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What to do should you see a snowy owl?
- Preserve a secure distance to watch quietly.
- Don’t play hen calls out of your cellphone or one other machine.
- Do not feed the owls.
- Keep away from flashes when taking pictures.
- Preserve noises to a minimum.
- In case you discover an injured owl: contact your state wildlife company or native rehabilitator.
- In case you discover a lifeless owl: contact your state wildlife company.