The snowy owl is also known as the Arctic owl or the great white owl. The snowy owl is primarily found within the Arctic Circle with the range of the snowy owl ranging across Canada, Greenland, Europe and Asia. The snowy owl is the official bird of Quebec in the North-east of Canada.
The snowy owl is one of the largest species of owl in the world, with the average adult snowy owl growing to about 65cm tall with a wingspan of around 140cm. Snowy owls however can be smaller than this, and can even grow to more than 75cm in height.
Despite the vast range of the snowy owl within the Arctic Circle, it has been reported for snowy owls to travel further south in search of food. Snowy owls have been spotted as far south as Texas in the USA and even in the Caribbean. Snowy owls are also commonly spotted throughout Europe and Asia, from the UK to the southern China.
Snowy owls make their nests on the ground but they chose their nesting place very carefully. A nest site for the snowy owl must have good visibility so that the snowy owl is able to keep and eye on it's surroundings, and the nest of the snowy owl must also have a good source of food so that the snowy owl does not have leave the nest for long (if at all) in order to eat.
Snowy owls breed in may and the female snowy owl lays up to 14 eggs although the average clutch size of the snowy owl is about 7. The pure white snowy owls chicks hatch out of the eggs after an incubation period of around 5 weeks. Both the male snowy owl and the female snowy owl parents help to feed and fear their young, and also protect the snowy owl chicks from predators.
Although snowy owls are omnivores, they have a primarily carnivorous diet. Lemmings and other small rodents such as mice and voles are the main source of food for the snowy owl. Snowy owls are opportunistic hunters meaning that they will take advantage of an opportunity to hunt larger animals. Snowy owls have been known to hunt fish (when they can find them), squirrels, rabbits, rats, birds and even large mammals such as gophers and foxes.
Like other species of large bird, the snowy owl is known to swallow it's food whole and then regurgitate the bones in the form of a pellet up to 24 hours after feeding. In order to sustain itself, the snowy owl must eat around 5 lemmings or mice every day which is nearly 2,000 in one year.
The snowy owl is known to have bright white feathers that are often flecked with black and grey. The snowy owl also has large eyes, a sharp, curved beak and large head, along with feathers on it's feet. All of these features of the snowy owl allow the snowy owl is survive as successfully as possible within the Arctic Circle.
Due to it's large size the snowy owl has few natural predators within it's environment. Humans hunting the snowy owl are the main predators of the snowy owl, along with large foxes, wild dogs and wolves.