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Old Monday 15th January 2007, 12:05   #1
Gillian_M
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Scientific name of Snowy owl?

I have different field guides which give two different names for the snowy owl - Nyctea scandiaca and Bubo scandiacus. Can anyone explain to me why there are two names for this species? Are they related to geography at all (both my Ontario field guides refer to it as Nyctea scandiaca while this forum's database and a Hawk & Owl book for Eastern North America refer to it as Bubo scandiacus). Which is correct?

Any information would be appreciated!
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Old Monday 15th January 2007, 12:09   #2
Capercaillie71
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If my memory serves me right I think that Nyctea was the old name, but recent genetic studies have shown it is actually closely related to the eagle owls (Bubo), so it was recently changed to that. However, I might have just imagined that, so hopefully someone else will be able to confirm if that is right.
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Old Monday 15th January 2007, 12:17   #3
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This suggests that my explanation above is correct:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Snowy_owl

According to this it was originally classified by Linnaeus as Strix scandiaca.

The change from scandiaca to scandiacus just reflects a change in gender of the genus name (Nyctea must be female and Bubo male, if I remember my schoolboy Latin properly).
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Old Monday 15th January 2007, 12:29   #4
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AOU which is the predominant authority for North America bird naming has changed Snowy Owl to Bubo scandiacus. Not sure of the date of change but it is in the Nov 05 update I have.

Bird Taxonomy is constantly undergoing minor (or major) changes so field guides are often slightly out of date.
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Old Monday 15th January 2007, 17:31   #5
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Ah, that explains it. Thanks for the info!
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Old Wednesday 24th January 2007, 12:55   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Capercaillie71
If my memory serves me right I think that Nyctea was the old name, but recent genetic studies have shown it is actually closely related to the eagle owls (Bubo), so it was recently changed to that.

Apparently, Snowy Owl is so close to Bubo skeletally that many of the sub-fossil 'Eagle Owl' remains in Britain are actually likely to be Snowy Owls.
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Old Friday 6th December 2013, 14:25   #7
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David Ringer, 10,000 Birds, 1 Dec 2013: Do Snowy Owls really belong in genus Bubo?
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Old Friday 6th December 2013, 19:49   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Docmartin View Post
Apparently, Snowy Owl is so close to Bubo skeletally that many of the sub-fossil 'Eagle Owl' remains in Britain are actually likely to be Snowy Owls.
Sounds like anti-Eagle Owl propaganda to me...

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