SNOWY OWL

SNOWY OWL (Bubo scandiacus)

The snowy owl is a rare and irregular visitor in PEI in the winter. The only owl with a predominantly white plumage, it breeds in the Arctic and feeds mainly on lemmings there, and on other rodents when migrating. Its patterns of migration are highly correlated with its food sources. The adult male is white, while the female has brown stripes, which are more developed in the juveniles.

The English name of this owl stems from is plumage color, perhaps also its Arctic origin. The name ‘Owl’ is an onomatopoeia for the bird’s call and comes from Cockney. The Latin genus name ‘Bubo’ is from Greek and refers to a ‘great horned owl’, although the snowy owl does not have ear tufts. And the Latin species name ‘scandiacus’ stems from Scandinavia, which is part of its breeding range.

The birds below were seen in December 2014 on the pillars of the old Hillsborough bridge. The adult male was on the northernmost pillar. It could be seen there for a few days. Snowy owls hunt by sitting in a strategic spot and waiting for the opportunity. The adult male was also in a spot that protected it from crow harassment. The other bird, a female or juvenile, had just escaped from a mob of crows and landed on this pillar, soon followed by one of the crows. Snowy owls are at risk of being drowned when harassed by crows above water. The crows will push them towards the water, and if they touch it, their feathers get wet and they can’t fly out.

Snowy owls are active both during the day and at night. During migration, they can be found in open areas such as fields, where they find their favorite prey. The snowy owl, at 6 lb (2.7 kg) for the adults, is the heaviest among owls, and it has a wingspan of almost 60 inches (1.5 meter). More information on the snowy owl can be found on this website.

Snowy Owl - Rustico area, PEI - Jan. 14, 2018
This Snowy Owl was mobbed by crows – Rustico area, PEI – Jan. 14, 2018 – Brett MacKinnon
Snowy owl adult on old Hillsborough bridge - PEI, Dec.28,2014
Snowy owl adult on old Hillsborough bridge – PEI, Dec.28,2014
Snowy Owl - Feb. 2016 - © Fred Cheverie
Snowy Owl – Feb. 2016 – © Fred Cheverie
Snowy owl juvenile & American crow - old Hillsborough bridge, Dec.28,2014
Snowy owl juvenile & American crow – old Hillsborough bridge, Dec.28,2014

The same adult male as above is seen in this video:

And the video below shows the interaction between the snowy owl and the American crow:

Here’s another video of the same snowy owl, facing winds of the snow storm:

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