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Snowy Owl - BirdForum Opus

(Redirected from Bubo scandiacus)
Photo © by kidwings
Sauquoit, New York, March 2003
Bubo scandiacus

Nyctea scandiacus


L. 23-28 in (55–64 cm). W. up to 5 ft

  • White, with varying amounts of dark barring on its feathers.
  • Adult males can be pure white, while immature females show the most barring
  • Adult females and immature males are similar in appearance, but males are distinguished by a more extensive white bib and a mostly white nape
  • Bright golden eyes
  • Feathering on legs and feet
  • Talons and beak black


Photo © by CurtMorgan
Argyle, New York, USA, December 2008

A circumpolar, holarctic species. Found in northern latitudes around the world. In winter, irrupts irregularly to more southerly latitudes every few years. In North America, it can be found slightly more consistently south to the northern US.

A long-staying pair bred in the Shetland Islands during the 1960's and '70s.


This is a monotypic species[1].

Was formerly placed in its own genus Nyctea


Photo © by earthimages
Wisconsin, USA, January 2009

Marshes, beaches, and other open areas, often seen on airport runways


Will often sit on the ground, rather than a perch.


Reminiscent of Common Buzzard but will also chase prey in a falcon-like manner.


In breeding season, predominantly lemmings. Breeding success often depends on the abundance of these rodents. An accomplished hunter. Known to take a wide variety of birds, including ptarmigan, shorebirds, songbirds, and waterfowl, which can even be captured in flight after a pursuit. Another favourite is rabbits and particularly snowshoe hare. Reported to even snag fish from water.


The nest is a ground scrape.

In Culture

The Snowy owl was used in the Harry Potter series as the protagonist's pet and messenger. Snowies can be found in several books and movies, and many birders and non-birders alike have been captivated by their beautiful appearance.


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2018. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2018. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Collins Pocket Guide to British Birds 1966
  3. Collins Field Guide 5th Edition
  4. Collins Bird Guide ISBN 0 00 219728 6

Recommended Citation

External Links

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