Snowy Owl

photo by Phil Swanson

Nyctea scandiaca
L 23″ (58 cm).

Song or calls:
Silent during winter. Utters loud croaks and harsh whistles on breeding grounds.

Description: Sexes similar. Very large. Almost entirely white, with gray-brown spotting above and light barring below. Round head; no ear tufts; yellow eyes. Females have more spotting. Juveniles are more heavily marked with brown. An old male may be completely white.

snowy owlHabitat: Wintering birds found in open fields, plains, marshes, and grassy lowlands.

Where in Nebraska: Often seen perching on fence posts or other elevated sites. Occasional winter visitor. Usually not seen every winter, but can occur anywhere in the state.

Field Notes: An irruptive species, they depend heavily upon lemmings for food. As the lemming population flucuates and food supplies get low, Snowy Owls then migrate south in large numbers.

Fun Facts: They have feathers on their feet for extra warmth during the winter.

Snowy Owl - photo by Phil Swanson Snowy Owl - photo by Phil Swanson
(click image for larger view)