Snowy Owls – by Sam

Nyctea scandiaca, or snowy owl, has adapted to its environment by having very specific attributes that help them live out in the wild. Snowy owls stand about two feet tall and weigh about six and a half pounds. They have a wingspan of up to five feet and are at the very top of the animal food chain. 

Snowy owls live in northern parts of the Earth in Europe, Asia, and North America. In the winter they live in: the United States Of America, Iceland, the British Isles, Northern Europe, Central Russia, Northern China, The Great Plains (midwestern region in the US) and Sakhalin (an island that is part of Russia). In the summer, they live in the Arctic. They’ve adapted in so many ways to live in a very cold environment. An example or two are having white feathers to blend into the snowy landscape and down that keeps the babies warm.

Snowy owls will attract a mate by doing an aerial display and a ground display. They breed in the Tundra (North Pole), Alaska, Canada, Greenland, Scandinavia, Novaya Zemlya, and Siberia. They generally produce 16 eggs per nest, but it varies depending on how much food they eat. The eggs hatch in one month and the owlets are able to breed in two years. After two months owlets are usually able to fly. 

Snowy owls are territorial; males defend in the winter because the females  are helping the owlets grow up strong. Females take a turn defending in summer. Snowy owls will attack anyone they don’t know when they get inside their territory.

Snowy owls have short, curved beaks and and eat mostly lemmings, but they sometimes eat other small mammals and birds. A grown snowy owl eats three to five lemmings a day. A snowy owl waits on a snow drift for a lemming to poke its head out of the snow drift and then pounces on it. 

When food becomes scarce, snowy owls migrate to another location that is fit for them. When owls are hunting, their soft feathers absorb high-frequency sounds that most animals are sensitive to. The owl’s flight is smooth and silent because the airflow is altered by a serrated edge on the wing. The other edge is composed of a flexible fringe that makes their flight completely silent. Snowy owls use their ears a lot when hunting and flying. Therefore they have ears designed so they can pinpoint sounds above and below during flight.

Snowy owls have a lifespan of nine years and the oldest one known was nine years and five months old. They are diurnal, which is different from other owls. It is also one reason that most of the ways snowy owls die are related to humans in one way or another. The most common causes for human-caused death are: gunshot, electrocution, airplanes, and car crashes.

I like snowy owls because of their beautiful coat of feathers and how intelligent they are. The snowy owl has adapted to live in very cold climates, survive, and migrate when needed.