Snowy Owl

STATUSLeast Concern


DIETRabbits, rodents, waterfowl, lemmings, and fish

RANGEAlaska, Canada, Greenland, northern Scandinavia, and Russia

HABITATOpen tundra and meadows

Snowy Owl

Physical Description

Female snowy owls are larger than males and are speckled with black spots. Very thick plumage and heavily feathered legs and feet insulate snowy owls against extremely cold temperatures. Owl eyes are so big that there is little room for eye muscles, meaning owls can’t move their eyes. Instead, owls move their entire head turning their heads about 270 degrees in either direction.


Foxes, bobcats, coyotes, bears, and occasionally snakes and other birds of prey.


In the wild, owls live on average around 5-10 years. Under human care they can live up to 30 years.


Owls are usually solitary outside of breeding season. Male owls may bring offerings of food, dropping the item near the female, who is usually much larger, to catch her interest. If prey is scarce, only two or three eggs may be laid; if food is easily available, then six or more eggs may be laid. Chicks generally hatch two days apart, with the oldest chicks getting the most food. Young owl chicks are cared for by their mother for about three months.

Fun Facts

  • Lemmings are the most important food source for snowy owls, and their breeding is tied to the cyclic changes in lemming numbers.
  • Snowy owls are one of the heaviest owl species in North America.

Conservation Messaging

Most of the Bird of Prey here at the zoo are all rehabilitated birds who have sustained different injuries deeming them unreleasable. These birds fall victim to debris found on the side of the road. If it’s an apple core, banana peel, or some discarded trash it will attract their prey items which will then attract the bird of prey. Birds of prey have tunnel vision when hunting and will often not see a car coming. One simple way we can help is to dispose of all your trash properly, even natural items like apple cores and banana peels

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