© Copyright: Images: Jari Peltomäki, Jouko Lehmuskallio. Recording: Jan-Erik Bruun. All rights reserved.

Snowy Owl

Bubo scandiacus

  • Family: Owls – Strigidae
  • Appearance: Almost as large as the Eagle Owl. Very pale appearance, males almost pure white.
  • Size: Length 53–65 cm, wingspan 125–150 cm, weight 1.3–2.3 kg (male), 1.7–3 kg (female).
  • Nest: In a wide depression on a gravelly hummock offering a view over the surroundings.
  • Breeding: 5–12(–14) eggs laid April–May, incubated by female for 30–38 days. Brood size varies with the availability of food. Fledglings remain in the nest for 12–20 days, then learn to fly to some extent at the age of 30 days and perfectly by the age of 50 days.
  • Distribution: Only breeds occasionally in northernmost uplands of Finnish Lapland. Breeds most readily in good years for lemmings, and has sometimes been absent from Finland for periods lasting many years. In years after arctic small mammal populations decline steeply individuals may roam as far as Southern Finland, the Eastern Baltic and even Central Europe in search of food.
  • Migration: Roams eastwards or westwards through arctic regions all around the world with movements related to local fluctuations in lemming populations.
  • Diet: Mainly lemmings, also other rodents and birds.
  • Endangerment: Critically endangered (one of the 13 bird species classified as critically endangered in Finland). The species’ European breeding population is estimated at just a few thousand pairs. European red list status (also globally) Vulnerable.

Snowy Owls are very large, as big as Eagle Owls. Mature males are almost totally white. Females and juveniles are also mainly white, but marked with dark patterning to varying degrees. Snowy Owls’ legs are covered with feathers, their claws and beaks are dark, and their irises are bright yellow.

Other species from the same genus
Other species from the same family

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