'Tundra' - Snowy Owl
Snowy Owls are the magnificent white owl found throughout the northern hemisphere in the cold arctic and tundra regions. Males are almost all white, while females have more flecks of black plumage. Juvenile snowy owls have black feathers until they turn white. The snowy owl is a ground nester that primarily hunts rodents and waterfowl, and opportunistically eats carrion. The snowy owl is active during the day throughout the summer, and like many owls may need to hunt for longer hours during the summer breeding season when daylight hours are longer. During the winter it is dark most of the time, so hunting in the darkness is also possible.
The male is whiter and smaller than the female, and she is barred with black feathers to assist in ground camouflage - a differential in size often found with owls to support the differential in size of prey being hunted thus avoiding intra-species competition. Lemmings are a favourite food of many snowy owls, and in a good lemming breeding year the breeding success of owls will also reflect this. In such a year the snowy owl may have as many as 11 youngsters, bundles of grey fluff, and their cries can be heard in the thin Arctic air for up to 5 miles. There is no evidence of siblicide with snowy owls - they make good parents!
Snowy owls defend nests against Arctic foxes, corvids and swift-flying jaegers; as well as dogs, gray wolves, and avian predators. Males defend the nest by standing guard nearby while the female incubates the eggs and broods the young. Both sexes attack approaching predators, dive-bombing them and engaging in distraction displays to draw the predator away from a nest - they are exceedingly strong fliers over wide open spaces, and formidable attackers!
All our owls are with us at Exmoor Owl and Hawk Centre to help us all appreciate the amazing relationship between mankind and our natural environment and to enable us to understand their unique personalities and hunting styles..... a reflection of our own lives perhaps. We enjoy sharing our Friends at our Centre, to encourage all our visitors to rediscover their connection with nature and a healthy environment - without which mankind is unable to survive.
A life without the natural world is no life at all.