The snowy owl is adapted to cold weather and snow. It is active during the day and well isolated with feather-covered feet. The owl easily manages minus 40 degrees. Additionally, the snowy owl is great at flying. A satellite-tracking revealed an owl that flew from Siberia to Canada. It was a flight of 3000 km in 48 days. Another flew 1300 km across the open sea in merely 11 days. The male is almost completely white, while the female and young owls have dark cross-stripes or spots.

The snowy owl becomes sexually mature after 2 years, and when they choose a mate it is for life. Their nest is placed directly on the ground, and the female normally lays 4-8 eggs but in years a high number of lemmings, the females can lay up to 14 eggs. On the other hand, the snowy owl does not breed if the population of lemmings is very small.

In Greenlandic the snowy owl is called Uppik, which can be translated to “the keel over bird”, probably with reference to the defense mechanism of the younger owls. If the young bird is attacked before it can defend itself, it will fall over, become stiff and lay with its legs pointed into the air, as if it was dead. Maybe as a way to trick the Arctic fox, which prefers live prey?


Scientific name: Nyctea / Bubo scandiacus

Height: Male 55-64 cm. Female 60-70 cm.

Weight: Male 1,5-2 kg. Female 1,9-2,4 kg.

Wing span: Male 125-150 cm. Female 142-166 cm.

Food Source: Lemmings and mice, but it can also hunt hares, ermine, fox puppies, birds, and fish. The Snowy owl eats approximately 10 lemmings every day.

Life expectancy: 10 years in the wild. In captivity there are examples of owls reaching 35 years.

Distribution: Tundra and moor on the Northern hemisphere.

Status: The snowy owl is rare, but has a large distribution and it is not endangered. Widespread all over the Arctic regions, as long as there are lemmings. It has been spotted near Skagen on a few rare occasions, usually in connection with food shortage in the Arctic regions.