The Snowy Owl
- Length: 53 - 66cms (20 - 26ins)
- Wingspan: 142 - 166cms (60 - 65ins)
- Weight : 1.1 - 2kg (2lb 8oz - 4lb 9oz)
- Habitat : Arctic Tundra. British visitors favor mountains and moorland with short vegetation.
The Snowy is a large owl with a wingspan of around 1.5 metres. It can weigh up to 2 kilos and females are around 30% heavier than males.
The Snowy cannot be confused with any other owl because of its large body size, relatively small head and beautiful white plumage with dark speckles. Males are usually less marked than females.
The Snowy Owl enjoys a varied diet, often dependant on local prey availability. It takes rabbits, shrews and voles; birds which can include geese, grouse and seabirds; and other Birds of Prey. Unusually for an owl, the Snowy will also eat carrion.
The last record of Snowy Owl breeding in this country was in 1967 on the island of Fetlar in the Shetlands, but the success only lasted until 1975 when the males disappeared leaving only a few females. Vagrant Snowy Owls do occasionally turn up in various parts of northern Scotland and have been sighted as far south as Lincolnshire. They are occasional winter visitors.
The Snowy Owl's dense plumage - with feathers extending down to the toes - and its great bulk and compact shape, enable it to survive extremely low temperatures. The average winter temperature in the arctic tundra is -34ºC!.