Snowy owls got their share of the limelight when Hedwig stole the hearts of many in the popular Harry Potter series. Here’s a look at some interesting snowy owl facts.
Well, I don’t know if a snowy owl would actually be able to carry a Nimbus 2000, but Hedwig certainly did so for our very own Harry Potter! She was the best snowy owl any wizard could probably have. A little moody at times, she always remained faithful and loyal to Harry Potter even during his troubled times. Reading about Hedwig may make us feel the need to own a snowy owl at some point or the other, but I feel they are best left in the wild! After all, not all snowy owls are like Hedwig who did not mind being cooped up in a cage all-day long.
Where are Snowy Owls Found?
Scientifically known as the Bubo scandiacus, the snowy owl is also known as the Arctic Owl or the Great White Owl. These are the heaviest of owls in North America and breed on the Arctic tundra. These beautiful snowy owls are found in Greenland, Iceland, Canada and the Northern parts of USA.
What do They Look Like?
This large bird has a rounded head with yellow eyes and a black bill. The overall plumage is speckled with thin and horizontal bars or spots. The male snowy owl’s plumage is almost purely white, whereas the adult females have around four to six tail bands. These owls are around 53-65 cm in length and have a wingspan of around 125-150 cm. The young snowy owls are uniformly brown. They also have scattered tips of white.
Where do These Birds Live?
The snowy owl does perch on trees but is known to live in hollowed-out holes. This bird very rarely travels into the forest areas. They are mainly spotted in open grasslands, along shores of lakes, marshes and marine coastlines. Many snowy owls migrate to the Great Plains of Canada around November and leave this area around March.
When are They Active?
Amongst the important snowy owl facts, one would be that they are diurnal. This simply means that unlike other owls, the snowy owls are active and hunt during the nighttime as well as the daytime. They are known to have a strong and steady flight with very powerful strokes. This species nests on the ground by building a scrape on top of a boulder. They also make short flights, which are close to the ground in the hunt for food.
How do They Communicate?
The voice of the snowy owls varies. During the non-breeding season, they are relatively silent. The male snowy owl has a typical call, which is very harsh and sounds like a bark. The female snowy owl has a higher pitched call. When it’s time for the mating season, the male snowy owls have a loud and booming sound. They are also known to clap their beaks when annoyed. Young ones are known to “cheep” for at least the first 2 weeks.
What do Snowy Owls Eat?
The diet of the snowy owl consists of lemmings and rodents. These owls are known to sit and wait for their prey. They can capture their prey on the ground and in the air. These owls are also known to grab the prey off the surface of water bodies. Snowy owls use their beaks or their talons to weaken the prey.
How do They Find a Mate?
Their courtship behavior generally begins in midwinter till March or April. The female snowy owls are visible on the ground while the males are known to fly in an undulating manner. The behavior of the male on the ground is showy. He bows, fluffs up his feathers and is known to strut around by dragging his wings to impress the females! If this is not enough, the males also kill and display their preys to the females.
What are Their Nesting Attributes?
The nest sites of the snowy owl are always near good hunting sites. They are also relatively free from snow. Sometimes, a pair of owls may nest in the same spot for several years. The female snowy owl incubates her eggs while the male hunts for food and also guards the nest.
Snowy owls face threat due to human activities that are causing the loss of natural habitats for these beautiful birds. Well, if only, everybody would love these majestic birds like Harry Potter.