(Bubo scandiacus)

FUN FACT

A single Snowy Owl can eat more than 1,600 lemmings every year.

 

The Snowy Owl is well-suited for life north of the Arctic Circle.  Adult male Snowy Owls are almost completely white (females tend to retain some brown scalloping on their wings), with thick, insulating plumage and well-feathered feet.  They are also among the largest of owls, weight 4.5 pounds on average and sporting a nearly 60 inch wingspan.

Although typically found in the northern circumpolar region, Snowy Owls have been seen as far south as Texas and southern Russia.  Such "irruptions" happen when population flunctuations in the Snowy Owl's main prey (lemmings) forces the owls to relocate in search of food.  In April 2009, a young female Snowy Owl spent several days in Pittsburgh, visiting both the Point and the National Aviary before continuing north for her traditional summer breeding grounds.

Distribution

Northern circumpolar regions.

Habitat

Arctic tundra.

Diet

Almost exclusively lemmings, but also other small rodents and birds.

Breeding

Snowy Owls breed in May. Depending on the availability of prey, a female will lay between three and 11 eggs in a ground scrape, usually atop a hillock or rock. Owlets hatch five weeks after laying, and both parents cooperate in caring for the young.

Status

Not Under Threat (Least Concern)

At the Aviary

Fleury currently lives off-exhibit, but you can see him in the new Wings in Winter Holiday Show.