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Snowy Owl


IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

The regal Snowy Owl is one of the few birds that can get even non-birders to come out for a look. This largest (by weight) North American owl shows up irregularly in winter to hunt in windswept fields or dunes, a pale shape with catlike yellow eyes. They spend summers far north of the Arctic Circle hunting lemmings, ptarmigan, and other prey in 24-hour daylight. In years of lemming population booms they can raise double or triple the usual number of young.

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Find This Bird

Unless you visit the high arctic, you’ll mainly be looking for Snowy Owls during winter in wide-open areas such as fields and shorelines. Scan snowy flat areas and be on the lookout for any irregularities in the snow. A lump or dirty patch could be a Snowy Owl facing away from you. Snowy Owls like to perch in conspicuous areas, so be sure to check high points like hay bales, fenceposts, telephone poles, buildings, or grain elevators. Also look for agitated birds—other raptors or gulls may swoop at a Snowy Owl sitting on a beach.

You Might Also Like

A Season of Snowy Owls, Living Bird, Spring 2014

Project SNOWstorm Seizes the Moment to Take a Closer Look at Snowy Owls, All About Birds Blog, January 2014.

Banding Snowy Owl Chicks With Researcher Denver Holt, All About Birds blog, July 21, 2014.

A Live Visit to the Snowy Owl Nest on Our Live Cam, All About Birds blog, July 24, 2014.

A Snowy Owl Sequel?, All About Birds blog, January 16, 2015.

At Home With Snowy Owls, Living Bird, Spring 2015.



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bird image Blue-winged Warbler by Brian Sullivan

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