Striginae, Tribe Bubonini
Strix scandiaca Linnaeus, 1758, Lappland. Monotypic.
OTHER COMMON NAMES
English: Snow owl; French: Harfang des neiges; German Schnee-Eule; Spansih: Bъho Nival.
21.7–27.6 in (55–70 cm). Female, 1.7–6.5 lb (780–2,950 g). Male, 1.5–5.5 lb (700–2,500 g). Heavy-bodied white owl with a large head, no ear tufts, yellow eyes, and a blackish beak nearly concealed by feathers. Males may have sparse gray or brown spots and bars. Females have more prominent dark barring, both above and below. Legs and feet are feathered.
Open, treeless tundra and moorlands.
Migratory and nomadic; movements probably due to fluctuations in prey populations. It is most active at dawn and dusk; forages during the day in summer.
FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET
Lemmings and voles form the bulk of its diet, however, it also preys on birds (up to size of ptarmigan), mammals (up to the size of snowshoe hares), and fish. Hunts from a perch; usually captures prey on the ground after a low, gliding flight from the perch.
A ground nesting species that lays later in the year as spring comes later. Clutch size normally is three to five eggs, but up to 11 eggs may be laid in a year when vole or lemming populations are high. Incubation is 31–33 days. Young leave the nest at 20–28 days, but do not fly well until about 50 days.
Not globally threatened. Status of North American populations appears stable, but European populations may be declining.
SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS
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