Beak of the Week: Snowy Owl

Happy New Year, Everyone! As tradition has it, now is the time to make some resolutions. And, at year’s end, when Danielle and I began to discuss our gratitude for lessons learned and appreciation for all things good, we decided to make a very different kind of resolution: to spot – and photograph – the Snowy Owl! In honor of this objective, and with the hope of realizing many birding goals in 2012, here begins our search this majestic bird!

Common Name: Snowy Owl (Also known as Arctic Owl or Great White Owl).

Latin Name: Nyctea scandiaca

Range:  Nests in the Arctic tundra (Northern most regions of Alaska, Canada and Eurasia). During the winter, migrates south into Canada, northern United States, Europe and Asia.

Habitat: Breeds on open Arctic tundra. Winters in fields, beaches, coastal dunes, prairies and other open areas.

Diet: Lemmings, when available.  Also rabbits, rodents, waterfowl, other birds, and fish.

Conservation Status: Least Concern. However, because of their preferred habitat, very little data is known.

A smorgasbord of facts… 

  • Snowy Owls are fierce and territorial–they will even defend their nests against wolves!
  • Artistic representations of the Snowy Owl from the Paleolithic era can be found in the cave paintings in Ariege, France.
  • Unlike most most owls, who are nocturnal, the Snowy Owl is diurnal, meaning it is active during the day and the night.
  • The Snowy Owl is the official bird of Quebec.
  • Harry Potter had a pet Snowy Owl named Hedwig.
  • In the Pacific Northwest, the Midwest, and Eastern Canada, Snowy owls are irruptive, appearing only in some winters but not in others. This year the Snowy Owl is irruptive!!!
  • The feathers of snowy owls contain no pigment, which allows more space for air. This helps to keep the birds warmer, since air is such a good insulator.
  • A group of owls is known as a bazaar, a glaring, a parliament, a stooping and a wisdom.
  • Snowy Owls have heavily feathered toes and legs to protect them from the harsh weather in cold arctic regions.


Wish us luck! 

Happy New Year and Happy Birding!

Danielle + Michelle

This entry was posted in Beak of the Week, Uncategorized and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.