Species of the Week: The Snowy Owl

Photo by Brian Kushner

This week’s #SpeciesOfTheWeek is the Snowy Owl (Bubo scandiacus). These distinctive owls can be tough to pick out in a winter landscape. Adult males are almost all white, while females and juveniles have brown bars on the wings and chest. You’re most likely to see a Snowy Owl in the winter unless you live in the Arctic. Snowy Owls breed in the Arctic circle during the summer and migrate south of the tundra during the winter. Their wintering range covers all of Canada and the northern United States. You’re also most likely to see a Snowy Owl during the day. In the summer, when the Arctic sun doesn’t set, Snowy Owls can be seen hunting at all hours of the day. Like other owls, they hunt rodents, such as lemmings and Snowshoe Hares. They will also hunt birds, such as ptarmigan and waterfowl. Since there are no trees on their breeding grounds, Snowy Owls nest on the ground by scraping out a shallow hole in the ground, usually in dry, windswept spots. The eggs incubate for one month. The chicks leave the nest after 18-25 days but aren’t able to fly until they are around 7 weeks old, and the parents typically feed them until they are 9-10 weeks old. Migrants leave the Arctic late in the fall and can be seen in their wintering grounds from November to March. If you’re looking for a Snowy Owl, keep an eye out around open areas like farm fields or shorelines. Snowy Owls like to perch on good lookout posts, so check the tops of fences, telephone poles, or buildings, and you just might see one of these stunning birds!

This entry was posted in Friends of Murphys Point, Murphys Point, Murphys Point Provincial Park, Species of the Week. Bookmark the permalink.

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