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Snowy Owl
Nyctea scandica


Snowy Owls are found only in the Arctic, and are seen most commonly sitting very still on the tundra. Snowy Owls are about the size of a Great Horned Owl but are different in that they will hunt during the day and that they have two different colors of plumage depending upon the season. In summer, Snowy Owls are brownish with dark spots and stripes. In winter, they are completely white. These changes in appearance are so they can hide when they hunt, so that Snow Owls can sneak up and catch the small mice and birds that they eat. In summer, they blend in to the tundra colors and look like shadows; in winter, they look like the snow covering the ground.

During the spring breeding season, owls will also feed on eggs of waterfowl, including geese and swans which are very much larger than they are. They have to be very quick to take an egg from a swan!

Snow Owls breed on the tundra and are very good at hiding their nests and eggs. The nest is made of dried tundra plants and the eggs look very much like the surface of the tundra. When parents come to incubate the eggs or feed the chicks they will move slowly and carefully so that a fox or raven won't find the nest. Snowy Owls do not fly south in the winter, but will stay wherever there is food to eat.





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